Skip to main content

Tornado strikes Mountain View County, Alta., damaging houses


A Canada Day tornado struck Mountain View County near Didsbury, Alta., Saturday afternoon, damaging a number of homes.

Didsbury RCMP issued a release at 2:33 p.m. about a large tornado touching down at Highway 2 and 581 specifically. They said the twister ranged from one to two kilometres wide.

Saturday night, Mounties said 14 houses had been affected by the twister. Of those, five were destroyed. 

Emergency responders were in the affected areas throughout the day. One woman was trapped in her basement when the tornado struck, but RCMP said she was rescued and only suffered minor injuries.

No other people have been reportedly injured. However, 25 cows and 20 chickens were killed, and one horse needed to be euthanized. 

A Canada Day tornado near Didsbury, Alta., caused significant damage to several properties in the area. (Darren Wright)


Catherine Littlechild was at a gas station in Carstairs buying fireworks for Canada Day when she saw the tornado touch down.

"The sky went totally black," she said. "Originally it was really small, then it funneled out.

"And when it funneled out, everything [was] sort of flying at us. So basically dust and dirt and pieces of asphalt flying at us." 

Melissa Boucher manages the Little Blue Camper campground near Didsbury.

She was at a friend's house in Didsbury when the storm erupted.

"It was way too close for comfort," she said. "I got an alert to my phone and typically what we do is... drive around and tell everyone (at the campground) to stay inside and if they're in a tent, to head to one of the outbuildings.

"There wasn't even time for that this time. There was like fist-sized hail and I looked outside and saw the funnel clouds.

"It was pretty quick," she added, "and pretty terrifying."

A tornado spotted on the ground near Carstairs, Alberta Saturday July 1 at 2:10 p.m. (Photo courtesy: Twitter@melnyk_photos/Matt Melnyk)

Boucher said the twister touched down south of town, where there are some homes and farms, and hoped no one was injured.

"I would say there's a ton of shredded vegetation right now in Didsbury," she said. "When I drove home, there was leaves floating in the street, tons and tons of rain, and now, not 15 minutes later, it's clear and blue skies."

Boucher said the worst thing about the sudden summer storm was the hail, and that quite a few vehicles were dented as a result.

Justin Duncalf lives in the area, and he said the twister was unlike any he'd ever seen. 

"Maybe, you know, you see a string of a tornado or something. I've seen that, but no, this is like out of a movie or something. It was pretty crazy," Duncalf said. 

Campground manager Melissa Boucher said there was "fist-sized" hail falling in Didsbury Saturday afternoon (Photo: Melissa Boucher)

Although that part of central Alberta receives its share of tornado warnings each summer. Boucher said, "It's the first time I've personally seen a tornado.

"This was - it was pretty terrifying."

At 2:23 p.m., Environment Canada updated to say that a tornado was "located southeast of Didsbury moving at 30 km/h."

A little earlier Saturday, Environment Canada posted a tornado warning at 1:50 p.m. for communities in Mountain View Co. including Carstairs, Didsbury, Olds and Stirlingville.

"Meteorologists are tracking a severe thunderstorm that is producing a tornado," it said. "Damaging winds, large hail and locally intense rainfall are also possible.

"This is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation."

By 4 p.m., Environment Canada ended the severe storm watch and tornado warnings for the area.

A tornado touched down near Didsbury, Alta., on Canada day, damaging several properties and homes in the area. (Darren Wright)

Environment Canada spokesperson Terri Lang told CTV News in an interview that "it looks like it was on the ground for at least 30 minutes.

"It dissipated after that," she said. "Got close to Carstairs, crossed the highway and off the storm went.

"It's still sort of holding its own actually," she said, "but hasn't produced any more tornadoes."

Lang said the long daylight hours of June create conditions that allow storms to build in strength.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted about the tornado early Saturday night, expressing his concern for people who may have been hurt or had property damaged. 

Didsbury is a town of a little more than 5,000 people that's located 82 kilometres north of Calgary.

With files from Brittany Ekelund, Mark Villani, Keith Macdonald and Alesia Fieldberg Top Stories

Stay Connected