Some people are calling this the "Summer of Storms" and the weather provided another reason to keep that name on the weekend.On July 25, more wild weather travelled through the Humboldt region, with funnel clouds and hail being reported near Lanigan, Burr, LeRoy, Englefeld, and Annaheim. High winds, golf-ball-sized hail, and widely varying amounts of rain accompanied the sightings of the funnel clouds.High winds did strike near Burr.According to Jerome Rath, who lives approximately 20 kilometres north of Lanigan, it was about 6 p.m., when he saw boards from his corral fences flying over the barn as he looked through windows from his house.There had been rain and hail earlier, along with thunder, then Rath heard a big roar, like the dryer in a car wash, but much louder. That was when he looked outside and saw the airborne boards.While he didn't go outside and look to see what exactly was happening, Rath thinks it may have been a tornado.The roaring sound didn't last long, but when it was over, the majority of Rath's corral fences were demolished. Boards from the corral fences were scattered around the yard and in the ditches and fields southwest of the yard. In places, pieces of the fence which had ripped away from their morrings were driven into the ground again about a foot deep. Fence posts were broken off at or below the ground level, while whole sections of fence were tossed at least a quarter mile away.Also missing in action were 13 round metal bale feeders that had been in the corrals. Two of the bale feeders were discovered about half a mile away in the middle of a field, while six others were spotted in trees on the west side of the property. Badly bent pieces from some of the other feeders were discovered in a hay field just southwest of the yard.The scariest part of the damage was done to trees barely 40 feet from the house. Some were ripped up by the roots, while others had only their main trunks left after all the branches had been stripped away."I'm just lucky it didn't come in the yard," Rath said. "I would have lost everything."Gerald and Marie Saretsky, who live just west of Rath, saw a funnel cloud around 6 p.m., but never saw it touch down.The Saretskys were out in the yard when they noticed the storm clouds moving in. They decided to pick peas before it rained, but kept an eye on the sky."We saw the clouds coming," Marie said. "They were just loose, gauzy clouds and then they started swirling."The funnel cloud formed and kept trying to reach the ground, but never quite made it, Gerald said. "It was a big thing to see it keep trying to get to the ground," he said. "It would reach down and give off, like a little puff of smoke at the end, and then it would pull back up."After the funnel cloud dissipated, it started to rain and hail, Gerald noted. They only ended up with about a quarter inch of rain, but there was enough hail on the ground that you couldn't walk without stepping on it, he explained. The hail ranged in size from golf ball- to baseball-size. The Saretskys collected some hail and put it in the freezer. Besides the size, the hail was also uniquely shaped. Several pieces look like flowers."We were just lucky that it didn't take that last step," Gerald said of the funnel cloud.There has only been one confirmed report of a tornado in this region so far, said Bill McMurtry, a meteorologist with Environment Canada. There may have been more, but the one confirmed sighting was just two or three miles north of Lanigan, he said, adding that it was only on the ground for a brief time and there has been no reports of damage from it yet.Along with the tornado, there were several reports of funnel clouds, along with severe hail and torrential rain. There was golf-ball-sized hail around Burr, and LeRoy reported two and a half inches of rain, McMurtry noted.When the damage to the Rath farm was described to McMurtry, he wouldn't confirm the damage was caused by a tornado, but said that winds in excess of 150 kilometres per hour could cause that kind of damage. It could have been a tornado, but it could have been straight-line winds ahead of the storm, he explained.The line of storms that traveled across central Saskatchewan on Sunday were caused by a low-pressure trough acting as a trigger.McMurtry said that most reports of severe weather on July 25 were from the Humboldt region or south of the city.The unstable air mass was still in the area on Monday and Tuesday, bringing with it the possibility of more storms.
For additional photos, see photo galleries.