Thousands without power after wild storm, tornado touchdown in southern Manitoba

Thousands without power after wild storm, tornado touchdown in southern Manitoba

The skies lit up over southern Manitoba Thursday night as a lightning storm dropped hail the size of softballs over some areas, caused power outages and whipped up a tornado that touched down in the southwest corner of the province.

Environment Canada confirmed a tornado touched down near Waskada, 280 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg just north of the U.S. border, in the evening. That followed a series tornado and severe weather warnings through the southwest.

The federal weather agency said hail as large as softballs was reported in Ninette, while quarter-, toonie- and golfball-sized hail fell in Swan Lake, Winkler and Manitou, respectively.

About 18,000 Manitoba Hydro customers were left without power during the storm, Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen said. The Crown corporation received 20 emergency calls Thursday night in Winnipeg alone due to downed power lines, Owen said, the majority from the River Heights neighbourhood.

Late into the evening, wild cracks of lightning lit up Winnipeg, which got 42 millimetres of rain at The Forks.

The storm forced a series of delays at the Blue Bombers’ season-opener at Investors Group Field. Kickoff was at 7:35 p.m. CT but the game didn’t end until until after 1 a.m. Friday due to delays.

Investors Group Field sits virtually empty during the second of two lightning delays Thursday night. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

Wind gusts in the 87 km/h range were measured at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.

The storms also battered southeastern Saskatchewan on Thursday.

Published at Fri, 15 Jun 2018 08:05:53 -0400