Tornado touches down north of Three Hills
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.
The tornado seen from the town of Three Hills.
The tornado from the viewpoint of the Three Hills golf course, located approximately 4 km West of town.