Barnwell-area homes and crops damaged by hail following weekend storm

The storm that swept across southern Alberta on Saturday caused many to keep an eye on the sky.

“It was actually kind of a little bit scary, it looked like the clouds might even touch down,” said James Johnson, with Johnson Taber Corn & Potatoes.

For the second year in a row, the Johnson’s corn fields have been destroyed by hail. Roughly a thousand acres of potatoes and corn were affected by the Saturday storm.

“Our corn is the one that took the brunt of it, it will be the real big loser, I guess, of all of our crops,” Johnson said.

Barnwell, a village about 44 kilometres east of Lethbridge and less than 10 kilometres west of Taber, saw golf ball-sized hail roughly 4.5 cm in diameter which shred through siding and trees, smashed windows and cars and destroyed roofs.

Mixed in with the hail was just under 17 mm of rain.

Wind gusts in nearby Grassy Lake were clocked at 81 km/hour and Environment Canada is investigating three possible tornadoes, one that may have been in the Chin Lakes/Barnwell/Taber area around 8 p.m.

“We were all keeping a pretty close eye on the radar on our phones, watching it,” Johnson said.

Fortunately Johnson said his farm had its fields spread out, so not all were hammered by hail, salvaging a bit of the season. He added they should be able to start off normal, but the latest hail storm could mean some slower parts of the season.

“We won’t have a constant supply at this point, which is unfortunate because we had a beautiful crop coming and it looked like our staging was exactly where we wanted it,” he said.

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