|The Calgary Zoo's Pat Istead with golf-ball sized hailstones that tore up the greenery at the Zoo in a storm late Sunday evening in Calgary, Alberta, on August 13, 2012. The hailstones, hidden among downed foliage, were still solid even 16 hours after the storm had passed. (MIKE DREW/QMI AGENCY)
CALGARY – Calgarians woke up to smashed windows and skylights, flattened flowers and dented vehicles on Monday following a storm that bombarded the city with hail as big as golf balls.
Calgary was pummelled with what Environment Canada meteorologist John Paul Cragg said was 5- to 6-cm hailstones during a pair of storms that developed as two cells in the northwest Sunday, first about 9:20 p.m., the second about 10:30 p.m.
And with hail came headaches as residents and businesses, including several car dealerships, surveyed the damage left behind.
Ninth Avenue Auto general manager Matthew Bergeron said of his 50 cars that were out on the lot, 30 windshields and two rear view rears were broken, and each car was left dimpled with $3,000 to $5,000 worth of dents — more than $100,000 total.
"It could have been worse," he said, adding 50 is a low inventory number. "In 25 years, we have never had to fix any hail damage. This is the first time. We have had hail but nothing like this."
One client's camper had hail rip right through the roof, he said.
Rayden Nash received a crack through his windshield and countless dents on his car as he was driving, or rather parking, on a northbound ramp where traffic backed up for 20 minutes as cars stopped under bridges for shelter, leaving others like him stuck "in the middle of nowhere."
"All the bridges were blocked up," he said. "I watched a guy watching a video while he was waiting."
At the Calgary Zoo, horticulturists were hard at work Monday tending to gardens that were beat up by the hail that also broke a vehicle window.
The animals were uninjured as they had access to indoor shelters, said spokeswoman Laurie Skene.
"They are all fine — they weren't too thrilled about hearing the hail," she said.
The weather brought back memories of the July 12, 2010, hail storm that with $400,000 million left in damage became the costliest in Canadian history.
Cragg said it's too early to know how Sunday night's storm will compare in terms of cost and damage, as insurance claims are still being filed.
"But the storm in 2010, the hail was f4 cm, so the hail was bigger so a lot of damage could be done," he said. "It will be interesting to see — it depends on how big the area got hit."
But based on the number of calls Jamie Lywood, owner of Precision Auto Body Ltd., has had, he believes it will be another memorable storm.
"It's quite similar," he said. "I expect this to be a fairly big one."
He it seems people have learned lessons and are more educated about the damage hail can cause and the sooner their cars can be inspected the better.
"Everyone knows the importance of being as quick as you can," he said.
Steve Kee, spokesman with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said it's too early to know a dollar figure for Sunday's storm damage or if Monday saw more claims filed than after the one in 2010, as data is received from a third-party source.
He encouraged people to document their damage and call their insurance companies.
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