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A Canadian freelance writer, podcaster, lifestyle and food blogger. Blogs about growing up on the Canadian prairies, adult life, retirement and cooking.

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17 June 2019

Plough Winds, Waterspouts and Hailstones | Summer Storms by Norma Galambos

saskatchewan summer storms, plough winds,
The Farm
On June 19, 1989, I was at work at the school in Leask, Saskatchewan which was three miles from my parent's farm. By mid-afternoon, the sky had turned an ominous blackish colour, but it was calm outside. At work, we kept attuned to the weather forecast as you must when you have a school full of staff and children to look out for.

We got a thunderstorm in the village, but nothing serious. I didn’t realize at that time that a plough wind had touched down at my parent's farm. My mom and my four-year-old daughter were the only ones there when it hit. Dad was in the hospital in Saskatoon recovering from kidney surgery. 

Mom and my daughter looked out the upstairs bedroom window towards the garden to see what the weather was doing as it was starting to get extremely windy. Mom quickly realized that they needed to get to a safer location. She grabbed my daughter and they headed downstairs to the dining room where they crouched down in the corner near the porch door until the storm passed. 

The plough wind took out a forty-foot wide section of mature maple trees at the back of the garden shelter belt and some of the fruit trees in the garden. The antenna and chimney on the house were damaged and tin was ripped off parts of the barn roof. More trees were broken on the shelterbelt that backed the lawn in front of the house. One of the trees fell on my daughter’s swing set and crushed it. Half an inch of rain fell in a few minutes. 

Dad came home a week later and surveyed the damage. He was unable to do any physical work for a long time after his surgery. The Hubs and men from the Leask Hutterite Colony helped with the cleanup and repair to the barn roof. 

Mom was convinced that the three-ton truck with a five-hundred-gallon water tank on it that was parked directly in line with the picture window was what saved the house.

When the insurance adjuster came, my daughter made sure she showed him the damage to her precious swing set. He reassured her he would include that in his report for replacement.

The Village
We also experienced a plough wind in the village on July 19th of 2011. It had been very hot. I remember laying in bed with the window open and looking up at the huge maple tree next door. It was so calm outside. There wasn't a whisper of wind to cool us off. 

I dozed off and woke up again at midnight and looked up at the same tree which was now being whipped violently back and forth by a huge wind. I got up and looked out the front window to see my beloved tamarack tree swaying so far back and forth I was sure it would snap in two. I walked back to my room and was foolishly standing at the window watching the storm. Lightning lit up the sky, there was a loud cracking noise and I could see the maple tree falling towards our house.  In an instant the outside view from my window was completely obscured by leaves and branches. Luckily the tree didn't come through the window as I was still standing there.  

The massive trunk of the tree had fallen on our wooden fence and shattered it. There was a lot of damage to the large old trees around the village also. Tree limbs and branches were strewn in yards and across the roads. 

There was a lot of clean up to do. The tree was very heavy, even when cut into small sections. Once again, the men from the Leask Hutterite Colony came to the rescue and helped the Hubs clean up the debris and haul it away. We finally replaced our fence in the backyard last week and it looks great. 

Crooked Lake
Five years ago we went on a camping trip to Crooked Lake in southern Saskatchewan. 

We were out on a pontoon boat sightseeing and were seven miles across the lake when we noticed strange looking clouds coming up over the hills.

We started to head back. It got very windy and the air felt weird because for a few minutes it felt hot then it would switch to blasts of cold
air. We got within sight of our shore but were caught in the middle of two waterspouts and the intense wind kept us from going anywhere. It felt like we were levitating off the water.  We were on the floor trying to hang on to our belongings which were flying everywhere. I could see one of the waterspouts in front of me and when I looked over my shoulder there was the other one. No rain fell just the cold, blasting wind. I was terrified the boat was going to be lifted off the water and flipped over. People on shore could see this all unfolding but could do nothing to help us. 

Finally, the winds calmed and we made it to shore.  It is amazing how nature can be so incredibly beautiful, but also frightening at times.  

Iroquois Lake
On Saturday, June 29, 2019 we thought it would be a good day to finally take our boat out on its maiden voyage of the summer. We invited another couple along and headed out to the bay on Iroquois Lake.  

The forecast was for sunny weather and it was nice and warm. Around three-thirty storm clouds rolled in, but the storm seemed to be heading away from us. We were visiting with some friends in their fishing boat not overly concerned about the weather, but it soon became evident that the situation was changing fast. The friends in the fishing boat headed across the lake for shore. We decided to ride it out on our pontoon boat under the partial canopy.

It quickly became clear that this was the wrong choice. Hailstones as big as marbles pelted us for almost ten minutes. The four of us huddled under the canopy for protection, sitting, standing or crouched on the floor. The hail was coming so fast and hard that the canopy didn't provided much protection. The hail pounded our bodies, especially our bare legs and feet. We shivered as ice cold water soaked our hair and ran down our backs. My bare feet were so cold. It hurt when the hail hit our heads, legs and feet. Hailstones were piled up in the boat like snow. 

We were shaken up after this episode and our clothes were soaked. The sun came out and it was beautiful with its rays coming through the trees and fog clinging over the hail on the shoreline. Of course, when we tried to load the boat the wind kicked up which always makes that task more difficult. One of our guests fell off the trailer into the water while helping to load the boat. To top things off, when we got to the truck we realized a window had been inadvertently left open and the back seat and floor of the truck got soaked by the hail also.

We know better than to underestimate mother nature, but once in a while she catches us off guard. I have referred to The Hubs as the weather whisper because he is good at predicting what the weather is going to do. I rely on him to keep me safe from the elements, but this time he let me down - he’s slipping. 

Be safe on the water my friends.

When I see the immense damage done by storms I can't imagine how traumatic that must be. We only experienced it on a small scale and will never forget it. 

Tell me about an experience you have had during a bad summer storm. 

Like it, share it. Thanks.

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