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Canada's fourth-deadliest tornado tore up a campsite near Red Deer, Alberta

Wednesday, July 14th 2021, 5:05 am - On this day in weather history, a tornado hit Pine Lake.

Listen to The Weather Network's This Day in Weather History podcast on this topic, here.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features stories about people, communities, and events and how weather impacted them.

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On Friday, July 14, 2000, an F3 tornado hit Green Acres Resort Campground Beach on Pine Lake, Alberta. Pine Lake is located in central Alberta, around 25 km southeast of Red Deer. The tornado killed 12 people and injured over 100.

2021-07-13

The tornado was spawned from a thunderstorm that was moving across the Alberta Foothills.

At 6:18 p.m., Environment Canada issued a severe thunderstorm warning, reminding locals that these types of storms can produce tornadoes. Though there's a weather radio transmitter close to Red Deer, it seems like people at Pine Lake weren't listening to the broadcast at the time.

Pine Lake, Alberta Courtesy TWN Pine Lake, Alberta. Courtesy of TWN

The cyclone touched down at around 7:00 p.m. The tornado travelled across the campground, tearing up a 20-kilometre path with winds reaching 300 km/h. It destroyed houses, farms, and 400 camping sites.


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The tornado was on the ground for around 30 minutes, causing an estimated $15 million in damage.

Tornadoes of this intensity are very rare in Canada. The country usually gets around 80 twisters per year. The Pine Lake tornado is Canada's fourth-deadliest.

Pine Lake, Alberta Courtesy TWN Pine Lake, Alberta. Courtesy of TWN

The Weather Network's Oga Nwobosi met up with Phyllis Galleberg, one of the tornado survivors, 10 years after the event. Galleberg lost her left leg and elbow due to injuries from the tornado, but her spirit and wit remained intact.

Galleberg was so severely injured by the tornado that the emergency crew thought she had been killed and moved on to search for survivors. "But I didn't die on them — I fooled them," said Galleberg, explaining that she yelled for help and the emergency personnel returned to provide aid.

*Pine Lake, Alberta. Courtesy of TWN Pine Lake, Alberta. Courtesy of TWN

Environment Canada has a 24-hour "Weatheradio" that transmits warnings across the country. In responding to the Pine Lake tornado, Heather Hamilton of Environment Canada said, "When people are out at the lake when they're out at a campground, and they're barbecuing, we can issue all the warnings and watches we want, nobody's listening to the radio, nobody's watching television."

"If you're going to be out in a vulnerable spot, you should have a weather radio," added Hamilton.

To learn more about the Pink Lake tornado, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features unique and informative stories from host Chris Mei.

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