Prairie hailstorms, damage seen below average

Hail insurance claims in the three Prairie provinces have so far come in “well below normal” levels for this time of year, an insurers’ group reported Friday.

“Hailstorm activity has been isolated and the storms to date have not been large,” the Canadian Crop Hail Association said in its regular report. “Having crops behind normal development in most areas has also limited any damage.”

Hail insurance providers in Alberta so far this season report just 28 claims as of July 1, coming from storms June 15-18 around Drumheller, Lomond, Iron Springs, Penhold and Red Deer.

That’s way down from about 400 claims at this time last year, which the association said was “about average.”

In Saskatchewan, meanwhile, about 300 hail claims have been filed to date, well below average and below the 1,000-odd claims filed by this time last year.

That province’s claims have come from “isolated” thunderstorms in many regions, bearing small streaks of hail but not yet causing “extensive” damage in any one area, the group said.

Meanwhile, about 220 hail claims have been filed in Manitoba, down from what was considered an average level of near 400 at this time last year.

Claims to date have come from southern areas around Waskada, Deloraine, Boissevain, Crystal City and Manitou, along with some from the Brandon and Hamiota areas. Most came from weekend storms on June 26-28, the group said.

The association is urging farmers who haven’t yet bought hail insurance to not wait much longer, rather than risk their crops being caught uninsured by what farmers call the “great white combine.”

Sales of such insurance are down in Alberta, where drought conditions cover a “large portion” of the province. Sales are also below last year’s record levels in Saskatchewan, particularly in its dry northwest and west-central cropping areas, the group said.

Hail insurance sales have “picked up” in the last two weeks in Manitoba, however, and numbers now appear to be “on pace with other years,” the association said.

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