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Calgary Hail Storm Makes Environment Canada's Top 10 Extreme Weather Events (VIDEO)

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CALGARY HAIL STORM 2012
It only lasted about 10 minutes, but the hail storm that blew in and out of Calgary on Aug. 12 this summer packed enough punch to find a place on Environment Canada's top ten list of Canadian weather stories for 2012. (Alamy) | Alamy

It only lasted about 10 minutes, but the hail storm that blew in and out of Calgary on Aug. 12 this summer packed enough punch to find a place on Environment Canada's top ten list of Canadian weather stories for 2012.

The mammoth storm rolled over city skies late at night, pelting homes, cars and people with hailstones larger than golf balls and brought with it high winds that felled trees and ripped siding from buildings and residences.

It was so severe, with the potential to do much more damage, that cloud-seeding planes were sent to the skies to help calm the storm.

The Calgary Herald reported at the time that four aircraft were sent into thick, swirling clouds for more than 12 hours before the storm, spraying silver iodide into the air to tamper the size of the hailstones that would eventually fall.

"This one was a beast. It took everything we threw at it and still was able to wreak some havoc," Terry Krauss, project director of the Alberta Severe Weather Management Society told the Herald.

"I believe if we hadn't seeded, it would have even been worse."

Story continues after the slideshow...

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And if that weren't enough, Calgary was hit later that week with two separate hail storms that left behind additional damage and even stranded two window washers 22 storeys above the downtown core before they were forced to smash out an office window to climb to safety.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says the storm accounted for half of the $1.2 billion dollar claims across Canada this year and cost $552 million in insured damage. The damages claimed were less than another ripper of a hailstorm that tore through Southern Alberta two years earlier in 2010, but this summer's storm was enough to land the number nine spot on Environment Canada's list.

Most of the claims in Alberta were for flooding and hail damage to cars and homes.

The unusually warm and wet summer across Alberta and Saskatchewan is also noted on Environment Canada's list, earning the number five spot of extreme weather events. Saskatchewan's early fears of drought were kept at bay by summer soakers that brought more than twice the average rainfall in May and June. Calgary was drenched with more than 133 millimetres of rain in June - well above the average 80 millimetres for that month.

According to Environment Canada:

"Veteran meteorologists in Alberta couldn't remember the last time parts of the province came under a humidex advisory for two or more days."

It was the second most active summer ever for severe weather events in the prairies, with summer storms more frequent and slower moving than usual. Of the 63 days between June 13 and Aug. 14 only 11 days were free of severe weather.

Other facts about the prairies wet, wild and warm summer, from Environment Canada:

- There were 371 severe weather events across the prairies. Alberta recorded its greatest number at 169 and Saskatchewan had its second highest total at 135.

- Only seven tornadoes were recorded in Alberta - much fewer than usual.

- Saskatchewan recorded 33 tornadoes - up sharply from the average of 13.

- Second highest year on record for hailstorms.

- A near-record year for wind events. Not since 2007 have so many storms exceeded gusts of 90 kilometres per hour and Alberta broke the previous record with 41 wind storms - up from the high of 37 in 2007.

Environment Canada compiles the list based on the longevity of the weather event as a news story as well as the impact on the economy and the size of the area affected.

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