Tor­nado touches down north of Three Hills

The Drumheller Mail - - NEWS - Terri Hux­ley

Mak­ing vi­ral head­lines, Fri­day’s tor­nado just north of Three Hills has caused quite a stir in the com­mu­nity.

On open­ing night of the 36th an­nual Three Hills Cruise week­end on Fri­day at ap­prox­i­mately 5:00 p.m. hot and cold air col­lided to cre­ate the in­ter­na­tional head­lines that have since fol­lowed.

Each year, Three Hills lights up with an­tic­i­pa­tion for the up­com­ing event with car en­thu­si­asts from all over the prov­ince gath­er­ing to swarm main street and the lo­cal air­port for drag races and other ac­tiv­i­ties. This year caused quite a stir from the nor­mally quiet town with the ul­ti­mate irony of a tor­nado on the same day as the car show.

“This is when we have the most peo­ple in town and it could have been worse – it could have hit a lit­tle bit south and it could have hit Satur­day in­stead of Fri­day,” said Tim Sher­law, Mayor of the Town of Three Hills.

Due to the ex­treme weather, cruise week­end at­ten­dance was abnormal as some peo­ple came sim­ply to see the lo­ca­tion of the tor­nado or were de­terred to visit be­cause of the dan­ger.

“It played a pos­i­tive role in some ways with our cruise week­end,” said Shear­law.

Min­i­mal dam­age was sus­tained to the area aside from a new John Deere trac­tor and the homes hit north of Three Hills. Com­mu­nity mem­bers came to­gether to help re­build the parts of the homes that were dam­aged. Lo­cal hard­ware stores de­lib­er­ately re­mained open on Satur­day to of­fer sup­plies in sup­port of the re­build.

“The com­mu­nity ral­lied once again,” said Shear­law.

Glen Brown and his wife were at the Blue Brana wilder­ness camp while their prop­erty was hit as well as a neigh­bour­ing acreage owned by Roger and Patty Hill.

Mrs. Hill was the only res­i­dent who was in­jured in the weather as she was at­tempt­ing to reach safety when she fell down her base­ment steps. She is now cur­rently in hospi­tal.

As far as the Town of Three Hills was con­cerned we did have a prob­lem at our wa­ter plant at the river be­cause power was knocked out but the Town of Three Hills faired very well,” said Shear­law.

No real tell­tale signs were ev­i­dent of the storm as there was no hail or se­ri­ous rain.

“We didn’t get the hail, we didn’t get the wind, it just pro­vided a per­fect sum­mer day to sit and watch the tor­nado,” said Shear­law. The tor­nado could be seen as far as Mun­son as the cell grad­u­ally moved from Three Hills, dis­si­pat­ing into an an­gry black cloud, head­ing East­bound. It was said to be on the ground for roughly seven to 10 min­utes.

This hasn’t been the first time Three Hills has seen tor­na­does as it is right in the tor- nado al­ley of Al­berta. Shear­law re­called a dou­ble twister just south of town back in the 1970’s.

Nat­u­rally, every cloud has its sil­ver lin­ing and for Three Hills, it is al­ways filled with hu­mour. Ce­cilia Wes­sels cap­tured a photo of her hus­band The­u­nis ca­su­ally mow­ing the lawn with the tor­nado fill­ing the back­ground. The photo has since gone vi­ral, mak­ing na­tional and in­ter­na­tional head­lines.

“Ev­ery­body is hav­ing their fun with it,” said Shear­law.

Mul­ti­ple peo­ple sent in pho­tos and videos of the wind tun­nel to the Cap­i­tal news­pa­per as well the County and town of­fices.

“We had a lot of peo­ple that took pho­tos with their smart phones and iPhones and such and took pic­tures and video and we were in­un­dated with it im­me­di­ately,” said Shear­law.

All in all, the tor­nado will be for­ever in­grained in his­tory via so­cial me­dia and new tech- nol­ogy.

“Out­side of some bro­ken win­dows, I re­al­ize the peo­ple who suf­fered the losses, the dam­age, they are af­fected by it but for the most part it was an ex­cit­ing thing for peo­ple to see,” said Shear­law.

“There are worse things to be on the map for – let’s put it that way,” said Shear­law.

Photo Cour­tesy of Cole Christie

The tor­nado seen from the town of Three Hills.

Photo cour­tesy of Jor­dan Tren­tham

The tor­nado from the view­point of the Three Hills golf course, lo­cated ap­prox­i­mately 4 km West of town.

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