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Severe storm wreaks havoc at Earview Colony

Posted on June 2, 2014 by Maple Creek

Residents of Earview Hutterite Colony were left shaken after a severe storm ripped through their land near Gull Lake last week.

They reported significant damage to property was caused by a tornado, which occurred on the evening of May 28.

The sky turned black as a severe storm whipped through the area at about 8:30 p.m.

“We were actually sitting outside and then it started into rain just beautifully. And maybe it rained 15 minutes and all of a sudden the lightning started to come and you couldn’t see anything,” recalled Marian Stahl, a resident at the colony. “The house shook. We were so afraid.”

When the storm had passed in about 20 minutes, they stepped outside to find mangled grain and fertilizer bins, tiles torn off the school roof and two storage buildings destroyed.

“They’re completely gone,” Stahl said. “Then it took five power poles and ripped them right out of the ground and laid them across the road.”

While the damage appeared to have been caused by tornado-like activity, Environment Canada could not confirm one had touched down near the colony, which is located five miles southeast of Gull Lake.

Strong winds gusting up to 75 kilometres per hour were reported from a nearby weather station. But winds could have been stronger near the colony, an Environment Canada meteorologist said.

“You could have winds stronger in the vicinity, and we typically see damage start around 90 km/h, so we’re not that far from that threshold,” explained Natalie Haselle, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada. “Plow winds can still be pretty devastating. We’re not ruling (a tornado) out at this time, because we did have a structure that can also produce tornadoes.”

Severe winds were also reported at Glenbain, and the Shaunavon and Dollard areas received toonie-sized hail.

Environment Canada issued a tornado watch on May 28 for 18 communities in southwestern Saskatchewan, including Maple Creek, Leader, Shaunavon, Swift Current and Gravelbourg.

But Stahl said the colony was unaware they were under the watch.

“We didn’t even know that we were under a tornado (watch) until it hit us,” she said. “You didn’t have time to do anything.”

Her father David Stahl Jr., manager of Earview Colony, said there were still boys working out in the fields when the storm came through.

“They were still out seeding and were caught there. So they had to sit in the tractor until it was all over,” he stated. “They said it was pretty scary.”

Everyone at the colony ran for cover.

“Once the shingles started peeling off the roof we went to the basement,” David said. “We really were shook up after that storm.”

No one was injured and no livestock was harmed.

During the 20-minute storm, they received two inches of rain.

The week before, the colony received four to five inches of rain in one day.

“We’ve had lots of rain,” David reported. “We’re over 100 millimetres in just the month of May.”

With seeding finished, the colony is now focusing on the clean up.

“That’s the biggest thing,” David said. “We started cleaning up everything in the yard, with all the stuff laying around.”

The bins damaged were not constructed that long ago, as a severe storm ripped through the same area of the colony in July 2012.

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