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Ten minutes.

That’s how long it took for Toonie-sized hail, torrential downpour and 60 kilometre per hour winds to knock down multiple trees in Charlottetown leaving nearly 3,000 residences without power and forcing several businesses to close their doors for the day on Friday.

The streets of Charlottetown were flooded Friday after an intense thunderstorm hit the Island. Brian McInnis/Special to The Guardian
The streets of Charlottetown were flooded Friday after an intense thunderstorm hit the Island. Brian McInnis/Special to The Guardian

The severe thunderstorm developed over Kent County in New Brunswick on Friday afternoon.

It tracked east towards P.E.I., entering the Cap Egmont area in Prince County around 2:50 p.m.

It continued east over Charlottetown at 4:05 p.m., doing the most damage between 4:10 and 4:20.

“The heaviest stuff, the damaging stuff, would have been 10 minutes long,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Barrie MacKinnon.

It left the city about five minutes later and weakened over Montague at 5 p.m.

The severe thunderstorm lasted two hours over the Island as a whole.

The most rain came down in Stratford with 17 millimetres.

“It happened so quickly that it caused localized flooding in the area,” said MacKinnon.

Toonie-sized hail fell from the sky during Friday's thunderstorm. Brian McInnis/Special to The Guardian
Toonie-sized hail fell from the sky during Friday's thunderstorm. Brian McInnis/Special to The Guardian

The reason for the quickness of the storm is because it was one line of thunderstorms as opposed to a cluster of thunderstorms, which would typically last longer, said MacKinnon.

He said it is common for thunderstorms to develop in New Brunswick and travel East but typically the storm will subside while over the Northumberland Strait.

“In this example we had a weak trough over the area so it was able to maintain its organization and move in to P.E.I. as a pretty severe thunderstorm,” he said.

A trough is an extended region of relatively low atmospheric pressure.

The severity of such a short thunderstorm caught many Islanders by surprise.

Isabella Lapointe was sitting in her living room on North River road when she heard the rumble of the thunder.

“All of a sudden it started raining then it started pouring and at one point it was completely white and you couldn’t see across the street,” she said.

Her power then went out for the next three-and-a-half hours due to fallen trees.

Kim Griffin, a spokeswoman with Maritime Electric, said fallen trees were mostly to blame for the nearly 3,000 customers who lost power.

“It surprised us that, that many trees came down that quickly,” she said.

One of the city’s main powerlines went down and a pole caught fire, both in the Brighton area.

It took about 90 minutes for Maritime Electric to patrol and assess the affected areas.

Seven crews were sent to help fix the damage, some of which were designated to only cutting trees. The Charlottetown Fire Department also helped in cutting trees.

Affected residents got their power back from 7 p.m. onward as crews continued to work until midnight.

Griffin said she doesn’t remember another time a storm this short was so powerful.

“I just haven’t seen that kind of intensity and that size of hail,” she said.

Water flooded the streets of downtown Charlottetown Friday after an intense storm hit the area. Brian McInnis/Special to The Guardian
Water flooded the streets of downtown Charlottetown Friday after an intense storm hit the area. Brian McInnis/Special to The Guardian

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