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Weather woes are driving everyone crazy

It should surprise no one that I have a few things to say about this year of stormy weather we have had in Saskatchewan, with the Battlefords among the many hard-hit areas this year.

It should surprise no one that I have a few things to say about this year of stormy weather we have had in Saskatchewan, with the Battlefords among the many hard-hit areas this year.

I still can't get over the carnage that I saw from that freak hailstorm almost three weeks ago. The day it happened, I would go to one flooded intersection in North Battleford, and the people there would tell me about an even worse situation somewhere else. Then I'd go over there and find kids driving through the flooded intersection in their bikes or paddling in a raft, while cars would be under water.

I can't get out of my mind the scene from the Boys and Girls Club, where the building was completely surrounded by ice water from the hail. There were even people brave enough to drive right through the nearby flooded-out intersection, even though there were barricades up telling them not to do it.

The pictures of the damage made their way to newspapers and to the network newscasts. Talk about a fine way to get onto the national news. North Battleford made a splash - in the wrong way - right across Canada.

You have to imagine Denis Lavertu, North Battleford's director of business development, must be tearing his hair out. How the heck do you promote or attract business to North Battleford when this is the image of your city? North Battleford is now known across Canada for floods.

The storms haven't quit. In fact, the Battlefords got hit again on Sunday afternoon, but the damage was nothing like it was before. It could have been worse, though. There were reports of a funnel cloud developing over top of Battleford around 3pm on Sunday. The reports don't surprise me one bit, because I actually saw this freaking funnel cloud! Scared the heck out of me.

Let's not forget about that other funnel cloud that developed near Wilkie that brought out the tornado warnings. And don't forget about the other massive thunderstorm that washed out the Battleford Parade and the fireworks earlier in July. And that's just in our area.

There has been so much storm damage to so many areas of the province - Maple Creek, Yorkton, Kawacatoose First Nation -- that Premier Brad Wall came to the city to announce the province was increasing its flood assistance to up to $240,000 for homeowners and $500,000 to small businesses, with the deductible on private claims dropping from 20 percent down to five.

It isn't just here in Saskatchewan, either. I had been hoping to get some much-needed rest and relaxation over the past two weeks when I was on vacation.

I learned a pretty hard lesson on the trip - if you want to get away from storms and floods, going to North Dakota is no way to do it.

Throughout my trip to the USA, I was dodging thunderstorms left and right. A huge severe thunderstorm chased after me all the way from Minot to Bismarck. Then, on the return trip to Saskatchewan I stopped at a hotel in Bismarck again, where I was greeted by yet another massive storm cloud.

The storm cloud that developed outside the city was so massive, in fact, that it looked like a hurricane was going to hit the city, not a mere thunderstorm. A number of hotel patrons stood outside to gawk at this dark storm cloud developing. Then we heard the ominous sounds of what seemed like air raid sirens in the distance. We turned to our desk clerk and she responded, calmly, "oh, that's our tornado siren."

Now, I have something to say about the weather coverage on the radio and TV in the United States. When storms hit in the United States, you can count on the radio and TV stations to tell you about it. Down in North Dakota, the Emergency Broadcasting System was breaking in to regular programming on the radio to tell you about the storm warnings, and there were all kinds of storm updates on all the local TV stations.

Good luck getting that sort of coverage on TV and radio in Canada, where Environment Canada has no weather person stationed in Saskatchewan and where your best bet is to go outside and figure out what a funnel cloud looks like with your own eyes.

I wish I were making this stuff up about the weather I encountered. Saskatchewan in particular has had an unusual American-style summer this year thanks to the moisture we've had. Because of the moisture, we are getting exactly the type of weather that people in the United States, especially Oklahoma and Kansas and the entire Gulf Coast, typically put up with on a regular basis. They get moisture from the Gulf of Mexico that combines with hot air to produce storms and tornadoes that people must always hide from.

Can you imagine what life must be like in those states during the summer? No wonder Americans are so miserable.

Given that background I have to laugh at the media outlets in Saskatchewan who are now pointing to all the storms and asking "when is summer going to start?" around here.

I suppose these same folks spend too much time in their air-conditioned offices - otherwise, they would notice that daytime temperatures have been better than last year. The problem, though, has been in the evenings. The hot daytime weather has cooked up the thunderstorms, ruining the evening hours.

No, we are simply enduring the kind of miserable summer that people in other places are all too used to. This is summer, all right: hot temperatures during the day, and storms and mosquitoes at night. Any more of this and Saskatchewan people will clamour for the return of winter.