Violent Storms

We all have experienced violent storms and severe weather conditions during our lives - some which we never forget. We realize we cannot do anything about the weather so we learn to accept whatever comes our way. When we compare our weather conditions with other countries throughout the world where earthquakes, flash floods and violent tornadoes occur, we can be thankful our storms are less violent than those we read about in our daily newspapers. Now and then we are hit with a violent storm just to remind us that it can happen here as well as in other areas.

One unusual rainstorm which I well remember occurred in the Elk Point district about twenty five years ago. At that time we were experiencing a very unusual mild January. One Saturday afternoon it started to rain heavily and by late Sunday afternoon we had a total rainfall of about five inches. Soon after, the temperature started to dip and during the next 24 hours our weather changed from about 40 degrees above Fahrenheit to about 40 degrees below Fahrenheit - a drop of about 80 degrees.

Another winter many of you will still remember was the winter of 1955 - 56. That year we had a normal snowfall up to the middle of March but soon after it started to snow heavily for many days. Snow plows were plowing snow every day and soon the ditches on both sides of the roads were piled high with snow. In many places the roads were so narrow it was impossible to pass oncoming vehicles. I don't ever recall another winter when we had so much snow.

For an extremely cold winter, the winter of 1949-50 comes to mind. It was one of the coldest on record. Shortly before Christmas the temperature dropped to about 45 degrees below Fahrenheit and there it remained between 40 and 60 below F. for over six weeks. It finally broke about the middle of February.

Over the many years we have experienced many electrical storms. One devastating electrical storm occurred on June 15, 1945, hitting the Muriel School four miles north east of Elk Point and killing two teenage boys playing near a swing. Another electrical storm killed nine of Nick Scraba's cattle a few years ago. The cattle apparently bedded down under a large tree during an electrical storm. Lightning. struck this. large tree, killing all nine cattle.

Over the years we have had a number of devastating hail storms which not only destroyed crops and gardens but damaged many buildings as well. One hail storm I remember well occurred to the west of Elk Point back in the 1930s. Prior to this storm two of our village residents left for St. Paul in an open air Model T Ford. Near St. Edouard, the hailstones started to come down quite heavily and to avoid the stones, William Soldan and Stanley Cromwell pulled over to the side of the road and quickly crawled under the car. A downfall of rain accompanied the hail-stones and soon the area under the car resembled a fast flowing creek - they had the choice or staying under the car and taking a drenching or standing. up to the hailstones and taking a real. pounding.

During the past years we have all experienced many drought conditions which not only ruined the crops but gardens as well. During one of these periods of drought I overheard a conversation in. one of our local garages. The conversation was between Georgie Johnson and a commercial traveller from Edmonton.. The traveller was complaining about how dry it was in Edmonton. Georgie, who was well known in our district for his many tall tales, soon convinced the traveller that the situation was much more serious in our area. He told the traveller it was so dry in the Elk Point district that it was rumored that the nearby North Saskatchewan River would soon be running only two days a week.

The severest of all our violent storms occurred in the Spring Park district about ten years ago. A tornado touched down southwest of Spring Park Lake and then followed a north east course for many miles. It flattened thousands of large trees and uprooted many others. Considerable damage was done to George Smith's farm buildings. The Smiths watched this tornado as it approached and at the last minute they all hit the floor just in time to. avoid the shattering glass from their windows. Luckily there were no serious injuries. Prior to this the Smiths watched as some of their buildings were lifted and hurled a considerable distance away. This storm would have. been. much more devastating had it occurred over a more populated area.

Violent storms aren't that common ion our district, however, now and then one does come along; just to remind us that they can happen here as well.