Some residents of southeastern Manitoba have a lot of cleanup staring them in the face, following a devastating hailstorm Thursday afternoon.

A severe thunderstorm rolled through the region about mid-afternoon, dropping rain in its path. According to Manitoba Agriculture, Menisino received the highest rain total in the southeast with 21.8 millimetres, followed by Steinbach at 19.9 and Marchand at 16.9.

Then, shortly after 3:30 pm, Environment Canada issued a Tornado Warning for areas in and around Steinbach. Though funnel clouds were spotted in the area, we have heard no confirmation that anything touched down. However, it got very windy in some areas with Manitoba Agriculture reporting wind gusts of 66 kilometres per hour (km/h) in Morris, 62 km/h in Zhoda, and 56 km/h in Steinbach. 

The wind caused some damage in the St. Jean area. According to Jolene Bird, Chief Administrative Officer for the RM of Montcalm, there was a wind burst at around 6 pm that cut their community sign in half. Bird says they will be contacting their insurance provider to get it replaced. 

St. Jean community sign damaged in Thursday's storm (submitted photo).St. Jean community sign was damaged in Thursday's storm (Photo credit: Jason Jablonski).

With regards to hail, it sounds as though the area from Kleefeld to Friedensfeld may have been the hardest hit. Candy Dyck and her husband Sheldon have been growing a community garden this year, east of Kleefeld, with hopes of donating the produce to places like Steinbach Community Outreach, Steinbach Adult and Teen Challenge, Soup's On, and foodbanks in Grunthal and St. Pierre. 

Dyck says when the thunderstorm rolled through Thursday afternoon, she was immediately excited because it meant she would not need to water either the community garden or her personal one. But then came the hail. Dyck says it was unlike anything she has ever seen before.

"I personally have never seen hail that size. I would guess it would be between a quarter to Loonie size," she says. "I've never experienced hail that long either. It was 15 to 20 minutes long. It was incredible."

Hail photo by Tracy DyckHail photo by Tracy Dueck

Dyck says no windows broke in the storm and thankfully all of their animals managed to find shelter. However, their gardens were not so fortunate.

"My garden was demolished," says Dyck. "It was flattened."

@steinbach_online A big #storm ♬ original sound - SteinbachOnline

She says corn leaves were shredded, zucchini leaves have massive holes, and it literally looks like someone took bites out of her rhubarb stalks.

"It was pretty miserable walking through the garden to see all the devastation," she adds. 

But their community garden is a different story. Dyck says surprisingly, there was not the same level of damage done as what was experienced in her own garden. Dyck notes as of Thursday morning she was disappointed with the growth in the community garden, but says the fact that plants were tall and skinny might actually have saved them. Dyck says a lot of plants did not have tomatoes and peppers growing yet and that was probably a good thing because the ones that are carrying vegetables are now sagging. 

"So, if I look through the community garden, I don't think that we're going to have too much damage," she says. 

However, one of her concerns right now is whether the plants might actually have frozen in the hail. Dyck says it was only a few hours after the storm that she was able to walk into her gardens and at that point there were still piles of hail surrounding the plants. She figures the straw cover probably served as insulation. 

"We actually had to spend the next hour just scooping ice away from all the plants so that they wouldn't freeze," she explains. 

Dyck says for now, time will tell just how much damage was done in Thursday's storm. She notes they are definitely clinging to the hope that things are not as bad as they initially feared. Dyck says thankfully the property where their corn crop is located was hardly touched by the hail. 

Even still, Dyck says there is now a lot of cleanup with all of the leaves that came down in the storm and the debris that now covers her gardens.


With files from Adi Loewen

Photos below show the damage to the garden of Sheldon and Candy Dyck.