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Pine Lake remembers deadly tornado 13 years on

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Kevan Karanjia
Staff Writer

Sunday, July 14, 2013, 1:12 PM - Communities around Pine Lake, Alberta remember today 12 people that were killed after a deadly tornado plowed through the region 13 years ago today.

July 14th marks the day a deadly F3 tornado tore through central Alberta 13 years ago.

The tornado touched down over the popular holiday town of Pine Lake, killing 12 people and critically injuring over 100 more.

The day started with thunderstorm watches in the early afternoon as radar showed convection beginning to appear over the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Within 4 hours, the storm had moved northeast and made its way near Red Dear. The low pressure encountered warm moisture that allowed a super cell to develop.

The result was heavy downpours, hail, and lightning.

People around the Green Acres trailer park and campground had begun to take cover as the storm approached. 

Sadly for some, there was no hiding from the tornado that touched down around 7 p.m.

The event lasted for roughly 15 minutes and when emergency crews arrived at the campground, what they saw was an area of complete destruction. 

Bill Stuart is a Volunteer Firefighter with the Bowden Fire Department and was on the scene that day.

"When we got there it was just a total disaster at the campground" Stuart told Natalie Thomas by phone. "You'd be searching through things and finding... for example baby clothes or little shoes for toddlers and thinking to yourself, 'hopefully you won't find anybody.'"

Many people from surrounding areas descended on the site to help, bringing food and water for victims and emergency workers.   

The tornado was confirmed as an F3 on the Fujita Scale and destroyed most of the 500 motor homes in the park that day.

Damage assessment later would reveal that winds reached at least 300 km/h. Adding to the problems that day was baseball sized hail. 

The tornado would eventually cost $13 million in damage and is ranked as the second deadliest in Alberta history.

It was also the first deadly tornado in the country for over 6 years. 

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