Natural disasters caused more than $300 million in insured damages the summer, particularly for the Prairie provinces.

On Sept. 20, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) released a preliminary compilation of extreme weather events with an estimated insured damage of $30 million or more. The data are provided by Catastrophe Indices and Quantification Inc. (CatIQ).

IBC adds that the loss estimate for the June 2, 2021 hailstorm and flooding in Calgary has been revised upwards. Insured damages now exceed $600 million, more than double the original estimate, making this disaster one of the ten costliest weather events in Canadian history.

Craig Stewart, IBC's Vice-President of Climate Change and Federal Issues, says “the July and August storms are a sobering reminder of the increasing risks facing communities across Canada. While the longer-term impacts of the climate crisis must be addressed, considering the increasing number of near-daily extreme weather events already occurring across Canada, we cannot wait to limit the impacts of climate change.”

Five severe storms  

Here are the five worst disasters that pummeled the Prairies this summer, in chronological order:

  • On July 7 and 8, strong thunderstorms in Alberta and Saskatchewan created supercell-type conditions. As a result, one tornado struck near Bergen, Alberta, and large hail damaged homes and vehicles in Ponoka and Oyen. Saskatchewan was hit by a tornado and local flash flooding. Insured damages exceeded $30 million;
  • From July 15 to 17, a series of severe thunderstorms moved across the Prairies, bringing heavy rain, very large hail and damaging winds. One tornado and a damaging downburst was confirmed in Alberta, and several tornadoes were confirmed in Saskatchewan. Hail again caused damage in Ponoka. Insured damages topped $70 million;
  • From July 18 to 21, over $100 million in insured damages was caused by a major low-pressure system that swept through a huge swath of central Canada. Tornadoes were confirmed in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, and large hail, heavy rain and flooding were observed along the storm’s path. Damage to structures, power lines, trees and homes was reported from southern Alberta to the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec;
  • From July 29 to 31, a disturbance originating in the Rockies moved through the central prairies, bringing flooding and hail in its wake. Two tornadoes were reported. The thunderstorms caused over $40 million in insured damages;
  • On August 1 and 2, severe thunderstorms in central Alberta brought very large hail, high winds and heavy rain. The storm drifted as far east as Saskatoon. A dozen cars were heavily damaged along Highway 2 in Alberta, along with property in both provinces. Estimated insured damages exceeded $55 million.