Minden residents are recovering from the effects of a severe thunderstorm that dumped rain and golfball-sized hailstones on the area damaging property and causing some nervewracking moments for those waiting it out last Thursday.
Minden’s meteorologist Scott Moore said his 88-year-old mother can’t recall a storm like the July 26 event.
“For a thunderstorm it was just a decent one” he said. “From a meteorological event well considering the pics I have seen from friends on [social media] that was some serious hail.”
Local residents quickly began sharing photos and videos of the extreme weather online despite a power outage due to a fire at the Allsaw Flats substation.
Rachel Gillooly who said she lives in the suburbs of Moore Falls about two kilometres south of Moore Falls proper posted the weather she was experiencing which alerted friends in Minden to the incoming storm.
“I was trying to heat up some soup on the barbecue because we had no power and all of a sudden this just like bang bang” she said. “It started very slowly but then escalated really quickly. And they weren’t even coming straight down. It was like some of them were travelling horizontally these great big honking pieces of ice. It was nuts. I haven’t seen anything like that we’ve been here for 20 years and haven’t had anything like this happen. Crazy snowstorms but not crazy hail storms like that. We just all got nailed down here.”
The multiple directions the hail was falling in as well as what felt like a 10 degree drop in temperature in less than 10 minutes time made Gillooly think of the potential for a tornado.
“Our eavestroughs could not handle it” she said. “It just looked like a curtain coming off the roof.” Gillooly’s vehicles were dented by the hail and her windshield smashed.
“The yard looks like it’s very funny the driveway looks like a golf fairway because of the shredding of the poor oak and maple leaves” she said.
In Minden trees were knocked over in Minden cemetery Rotary Park the back of the arena and fairgrounds according to Mark Coleman community services director. Hydro lines and poles snapped in the area of Invergordon Avenue and Stouffer Street.
“It started off as rain and then it went from rain to small almost marble-sized hail then it just kept getting bigger and bigger” said Chantel Smith a Minden resident. “I had one a little bit bigger than a golf ball in my hand that was the biggest we saw. Then the trees started blowing around and the weather got really grey and dark. There were really high winds and the trees were just folding in half. We grabbed our kids at that point – the weather just went crazy – and then at that point we ran to the basement because it literally looked like there was going to be like it was the start of the tornado.”
Anticipating a possible tornado due to the intense nature of the storm Smith said she kept her curious kids back from windows when the hail started loudly striking the glass.
“I was so scared” she said. “I’ve never been so scared in my life … I’m going to be 29 and as far as I can remember the way it was yesterday was the craziest I’ve ever seen it. I was shaking. It went from just raining to quickly hail and then bigger hail bigger hail and then all of a sudden it just went nuts for 15 minutes at least. We were panicking. Then the trees were falling over in the park.”
Larry Moynes at Ridgewood Ford Sales Ltd. in Minden was kept busy the day after the storm estimating the damage caused to the entire inventory of 145 cars in the parking lot.
“They will be all fixed and then they will be all sold with further price reduction from the employee pricing” he said. “Insurance covers the cost to fix the cars it doesn’t cover what we’re going to have to reduce them to move them.”
Besides dealing with the insurance claim Moynes was busy with people bringing their damaged cars to him for advice.
“I don’t know whether it was maybe not quite as severe on our lot – it was severe enough that it dented all the cars – but we’ve had customers come in today with far more damage than what’s happened to our cars” he said.
It’s expected to take three to four weeks to repair the inventory which can all be fixed with paintless dent repair without a need for paintwork.
“Well nobody was hurt so … it’s just one of those things” said Moynes. “Mother Nature you can’t do anything about it. You just have to make the best of it and deal with it and move on.”
Home Hardware in Minden was busy on Thursday afternoon especially due to the power outage that affected more than 22000 county residents.
“We were running on the back-up generator here and we were busy because naturally everyone was coming in for flashlights candles we sold out of all of our generators” said Tom Walton assistant manager.
Laughing he added: “Everyone running at the last minute for everything they should have had beforehand.”
Staff was running ragged up until the store closed.
“The thing is nobody realized how bad things were out front until this morning” he said. “We’ve never had anything like that happen before.”
Outside the store a display of Adirondack chairs was destroyed with about eight chairs smashed. “There were holes right through them all over the place” he said. “Very unexpected.”
The greenhouses on the store lot were spared.
“It was strange I’ve never seen anything like that up here” said Walton who has been in the area for 15 years.
“We’ve seen hail before it wasn’t the first time we’ve seen hail but it was obviously harder than we thought.”
On Water Street Faye Adamson’s garden did not fare well in the storm.
“[We] lost half of our hot pepper crop hundreds of tomatoes the zucchini and squash leaves are shredded all the carrots and lettuce look pathetic I have zucchini with welts in them and to top if off the light on my back deck shattered so now I can’t garden barefoot” she said.
Adamson the Haliburton County farmers’ market manager relies on output from her gardens for her business Water St. Market Garden.
“Without having greenhouses I depend entirely on the sun to ripen my crops so my harvesting season is further behind the other larger scale farms” she told the Times . “I will have way less to harvest and therefore way less to sell less to preserve. And then the broken plants will be far more susceptible to insect and fungal attacks so there is a chance we will lose more than we already have.”
Environment Canada issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Haliburton County at 2:48 p.m. on July 26 that stayed in place until the early evening as approximately 23 millilitres of rain fell on the region. The storm brought winds that toppled trees and hail that dented cars smashed windshields shredded awnings and destroyed vegetable gardens.
“Yesterday was extraordinary because hail is not that common” said Gerald Cheng acting warning preparedness meteorologist Environment and Climate Change Canada on July 27. “If we get hail usually it’s pea-sized smaller sizes but we’ve got reports of golf ball-sized hail larger than a toonie – then it’s sort of an extraordinary event for us.”
Cheng said that in preliminary review of the storm large hail was not reported in Haliburton County after the thunderstorm winded down. Toonie-sized hail was reported from London to Toronto and golf ball-sized hail about 4.5 centimetres was reported in Birr north of London. In the evening hours a tornado warning due to radar was issued around the London and Woodstock area.
“When we went into yesterday there were basically two threats that were the main threats” he said. “It was the gusty winds possibly damaging gusts and also hail. There were very few reports around [Haliburton’s] neck of the woods in terms of actual gusts. We did get some hail reports they were around Haliburton which was from nickel to quarter size around 2.1 cm to 2.4 cm.”
Earlier last week two storms had measured 10 millilitres and 33 millilitres of rainfall effectively ending a fire ban on the morning of July 26 that had been in place since July 9.
“So it’s been a very rainy week which is good because I think for a moment there we were all complaining about the lack of rain” said Cheng.
Cheng said the county will see less of the heat wave and dry weather experienced at the beginning of the month and more rounds of showers coming through.
“It doesn’t mean we can guarantee rain for everybody but it’s just that the chance of showers will be there and they may develop especially in the afternoon or evening hours” he said. “We just have to watch how powerful they are. I see that even into the long-range you might get a day that would be clear or fair but otherwise we’d be looking at on-and-off showers kind of thing. I’m hoping there’s no more hail so it won’t ruin the gardens.”
Curry Chevrolet Buick GMC Ltd. in Haliburton is hosting a dent repair clinic with Dent Dynamics Inc. at the dealership’s location at 5065 County Rd 21 for the next few months to help car owners assess and repair the damage to their vehicles. Call 705-457-2100 for more information.