The Edmonton tornado of 1987, an event also known as Black Friday to Edmontonians, was a powerful and devastating tornado that ripped through the eastern parts of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and parts of neighbouring Strathcona County on the afternoon of Friday, July 31, 1987. It was one of seven other tornadoes in central Alberta the same day.[5]

The Edmonton tornado of 1987
F4 tornado
Photograph by Steve Simon
FormedJuly 31, 1987
Duration2:55 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. MDT (20:55-02:00UTC)
Highest winds
  • 418 km/h (260 mph)
Lowest pressure919.3 mb (27.15 inHg)
Max. rating1F4 tornado
Largest hailTennis ball and larger
Maximum rainfall300 millimetres (12 in)
Fatalities27 fatalities
~300 injured
Damage$332.27 million
($687 million in 2021 dollars[1])
Areas affectedCity of Edmonton, Strathcona County, Central Alberta
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale

The tornado peaked at F4 on the Fujita scale and remained on the ground for an hour, cutting a swath of destruction 30.8 km (19.1 mi) in length and up to 1.3 km (0.81 mi) wide in some places.[5][6] It killed 27 people, and injured more than 300, destroyed more than 300 homes, and caused more than C$332.27 million (equivalent to $687 million in 2021) in property damage at four major disaster sites. The loss of life, injuries and destruction of property made it the worst natural disaster in Alberta's recent history and the second deadliest in Canada's history, after the Regina Cyclone.

Weather forecasts issued during the morning and early afternoon of July 31, 1987 for Edmonton revealed a recognition by Environment Canada of a high potential for unusually severe thunderstorms that afternoon. Environment Canada responded swiftly upon receipt of the first report of a tornado touchdown from a resident of Leduc County which is immediately adjacent to Edmonton's southern boundary.

Summary Edit

In the week preceding July 31, a low pressure system sitting over southwestern British Columbia fed warm, humid air into central Alberta. Daytime heating along with near-record dewpoints over Alberta triggered a series of strong thunderstorms that persisted throughout the week. On July 31, a cold front developed over western Alberta, colliding with the warm moist air that persisted over the region. Forecasters recognized the elevated risk for severe weather early in the day.[7] Weatheradio broadcasts and interviews with the media stressed "vicious thunderstorms" and "extremely strong and violent thunderstorms".[8] Severe thunderstorms developed rapidly over the foothills early in the day and quickly moved eastward. The first severe weather watches were issued over central Alberta late in the morning and continued early in the afternoon. At 1:40 pm, a severe weather watch was issued for the Edmonton area, including Leduc County, Parkland County, and Strathcona County. The watch was later upgraded to a warning at 2:45 pm as the line of storms approached the area. As the cluster of storms approached the Leduc area, a violent cell rapidly developed ahead of the main line of storms and sharply turned northward.

The storm passed east of Leduc, where the first tornado was reported by a weather spotter at 2:59 pm. The tornado was on the ground briefly before dissipating. Shortly after 3:00 pm, the tornado again touched down in the Beaumont area, tossing granaries and farm equipment as it grew in size and strength.[9]

At 3:04 pm, a tornado warning was issued for the city. The tornado moved into the southeast portion of the city as a multiple-vortex tornado, and tracked north along the eastern portions of Mill Woods, causing F2 to F3 damage. The tornado continued northward crossing the Sherwood Park Freeway and eventually hitting the Refinery Row area at F4 intensity. The tornado tossed several large oil tanks, levelled several industrial buildings, and several trailers were picked up and scattered at Laidlaw and Byers Transport.[10] Grass scouring and windrowing of debris occurred, and damage in that area may have been borderline F5, but was never officially ranked as such.[11]

The tornado weakened slightly as it passed over an open area between Baseline Road and the North Saskatchewan River. Still, it maintained F2 to F3 intensity as it tore through eastern parts of Clareview toward 4:00 pm, causing heavy damage to several homes in Kernohan, Bannerman and Fraser neighbourhoods.[10] The tornado persisted as it headed northeast toward the Evergreen Mobile Home Park. There, the tornado completely destroyed nearly 200 mobile homes in the area, killed 15 people and injured numerous others.

Other area tornadoes Edit

Not including the F4 tornado, five other tornadoes were reported. An F2 tornado touched down near Beaumont, south of Edmonton. It travelled through countryside east of Edmonton. Twenty-two minutes after the first tornado touchdown an F1 tornado touched down in Southeast Edmonton in an area that was mostly farmland. It travelled 7.26 km (4.51 mi). There were also three F0 tornadoes in the Edmonton Area (to the north, northwest, and southwest) but too far away to be seen from the city.[5][12]

Farther from the Edmonton area, an F2 tornado touched down in farmland between Millet and Vegreville and remained on the ground for 52 km (32 mi), causing $40,000 in damages.[13][5]

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
FU F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
0 4 1 2 0 1 0 6

Chronology of events Edit

Path of the tornado

The following is a chronology of events that occurred on July 31, 1987.

  • 1:40 pm: Severe weather watch issued for the City of Edmonton, Leduc County, Parkland County and Strathcona County
  • 2:45 pm: Severe weather warning issued for same area
  • 2:52 pm: Weatheradio Canada emergency tone activated for Edmonton transmitter
  • 2:59 pm: Tornado sighting reported to weather office by a citizen near Leduc, 33 km (21 mi) south of downtown Edmonton
  • 3:04 pm: Tornado warning issued over Weatheradio
  • 3:25 pm: Tornado causes F2 – F3 damage in the southeast Mill Woods, a suburban residential area
  • 3:30 pm: Peak intensity: F4 damage[6] in Refinery Row, a heavy industrial area, killing 12 people and injuring numerous others
  • 4:25 pm: Tornado causes F2 – F3 damage in Evergreen, a manufactured home community, killing 15 people and injuring numerous others, and then dissipates

Post-disaster response Edit

While municipal emergency agencies, fire departments, ambulance and police were responding, Canada's Department of National Defence placed helicopters and ambulances on standby at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, and provided reconnaissance flights for the City of Edmonton and the deputy prime minister. At the onset of the storm Emergency Preparedness Canada established contact with the Government of Alberta Emergency Response Centre. EPC established a liaison office at the response centre at approximately 1800 hours that same day.

As emergency personnel responded to the industrial area, potential threats from dangerous goods came to light. Alberta's Compliance Information Centre dispatched its dangerous goods inspectors and the provincial environmental response team to the area. The emergent post-disaster response period lasted for approximately three weeks including immediate disaster assistance for victims. At the end of August 1987 details of the overall damage costs were gathered and the Government of Alberta announced an extensive disaster recovery program with the assistance of the Government of Canada.

The Emergency Public Warning System, later replaced by Alberta Emergency Alert, was developed as a result of the 1987 tornado disaster.[14] The warning system breaks into private and public broadcasts on radio, television and cable systems. It alerts the public for all disaster hazards that threaten to strike with little or no warning. The warning system is also used for issuing Amber Alerts.[15]

The tornado had also resulted in the first implementation of the Doppler weather radar concept in Canada in the early 1990s. Edmonton's Carvel radar was one of only three Dopplers to exist in Canada at the time. It later became part of the Canadian weather radar network, which was Dopplerized starting in 1998.[16]

In media Edit

The song "Tornado '87" by The Rural Alberta Advantage, on their 2011 album Departing, was inspired by singer Nils Edenloff's experience as a child surviving the tornado.[17]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ 1688 to 1923: Geloso, Vincent, A Price Index for Canada, 1688 to 1850 (December 6, 2016). Afterwards, Canadian inflation numbers based on Statistics Canada tables 18-10-0005-01 (formerly CANSIM 326-0021) "Consumer Price Index, annual average, not seasonally adjusted". Statistics Canada. Retrieved April 17, 2021. and table 18-10-0004-13 "Consumer Price Index by product group, monthly, percentage change, not seasonally adjusted, Canada, provinces, Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Iqaluit". Statistics Canada. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  2. ^ "Hourly Data Report for July 31, 1987 - Station pressure (kPa)". Environment Canada. Government of Canada. Archived from the original on December 14, 2018. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  3. ^ ITV (Global News Edmonton) (1987). "Winds of Terror". Alberta Municipal Affairs. Edmonton: Government of Alberta. Archived from the original (Video) on January 15, 2013. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  4. ^ "Reported Hail-Size Category". University of Alberta. University of Alberta. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Canadian National Tornado Database: Verified Events (1980-2009) - Public". Open Canada. Environment Canada. Archived from the original on July 4, 2016. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Fact Sheet – Summer Severe Weather Warnings". Environment Canada. May 24, 2005. Archived from the original on February 28, 2009. Retrieved July 30, 2007.
  7. ^ "Winds of Terror". Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  8. ^ "The Edmonton Tornado – Environment Canada (". Archived from the original on November 15, 2002.
  9. ^ "The Edmonton Tornado". Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  10. ^ a b "A Commemorative Reflection on the Edmonton Tornado and Hailstorm, 1987". Archived from the original on December 5, 1998. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  11. ^ Max (July 16, 2012). "Powerful Tornadoes Outside the United States – Violent Tornadoes in France, Russia, South Africa, Poland, Canada and Japan |". Archived from the original on September 3, 2013. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  12. ^ "Chapter 3 -J Other tornadoes in greater Edmonton". A Commemorative Reflection On The Edmonton Tornado And Hail. Archived from the original on October 1, 2016. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  13. ^ "The Edmonton Tornado – Environment Canada (". Archived from the original on November 15, 2002.
  14. ^ "Program History". Alberta Emergency Alert. Government of Alberta. Archived from the original on September 25, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  15. ^ "Alberta launches 'Amber Alert' kidnap system". Canadian Press. December 2, 2002. Archived from the original on May 24, 2003. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
  16. ^ Joe, Paul; Lapczak, Steve (2002). "Evolution of the Canadian Operational Radar Network" (PDF). Proceedings. 2nd European Conference on Radar in Meteorology and Hydrology. Delft, Netherlands. pp. 370–382. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  17. ^ "Exclusive premiere: The Rural Alberta Advantage "Tornado '87"". IFC. November 11, 2011. Archived from the original on September 29, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014.

External links Edit

53°34′N 113°22′W / 53.56°N 113.36°W / 53.56; -113.36]