'God spared us': Ontarians survey damage after tornado, intense storms
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, August 3, 2015 11:41AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 3, 2015 10:10PM EDT
Environment Canada has confirmed that a tornado touched down in southwestern Ontario on Sunday, when a band of intense thunderstorms rolled through the province.
Meteorologist Arnold Ashton said the tornado touched down in Teviotdale, about 60 kilometres north of Waterloo, at approximately 9 p.m. The EF-2-strength tornado tore the roofs off two homes and cut a path of destruction nine kilometres long and 200 metres wide. Ashton estimates the tornado’s wind speed at between 180 to 220 kilometres per hour.
The tornado touched down as several rounds of violent thunderstorms crossed southern Ontario. The weather systems were triggered by a combination of warm and humid conditions, and strong upper-level winds ahead of a cold front.
The first storm struck southern Ontario in the afternoon, bringing with it intense rain and lightning as well as marble-sized hail in some areas. Environment Canada said the storm likely caused "considerable swaths" of straight-line wind damage, and might have even resulted in a "brief tornado or two.” However, no serious damage occurred and no twisters were confirmed.
That storm was followed by a second, longer-lasting system that arrived after dark, ushering in intense winds and damaging several trees in parts of southwestern Ontario. Some areas also experienced golf ball-sized hail and damaging straight-line winds.
An Environment Canada survey team sent to Teviotdale found that the damage was consistent with an EF-2-strength tornado.
Two homes in the tiny village of about 100 people were "significantly damaged." The roof was completely stripped off one bungalow and two walls of the house had collapsed.
The roof of Erma Weeber's home, which she shares with two Mennonite families, was destroyed by the powerful winds. Weeber feels lucky that she and her daughters weren't inside when the storm hit.
"We're so thankful everyone is alive. God spared us," Weeber said.
Several Ontario Provincial Police cars were also damaged, after debris smashed their windows, as well as some local barns. There were also numerous downed trees and power lines in the area.
There were no reports of injuries, but according to the mayor of the nearby town of Minto, damage throughout the region is substantial.
"We know we are in the millions (of dollars) overall, and that's because of the barns in the area, but we're still waiting for the damage reports to the come," said Mayor George Bridge.
However, the cleanup is well underway as volunteers try to help their neighbours get back on their feet.
"This community will pull together and it will be rebuilt by Thursday," one person said with a laugh.
Ashton said the storms brought strong winds to much of southern Ontario, with wind gusts of up to 110 kilometres per hour.
Several areas outside the Greater Toronto Area experienced power outages due to the storms. A Hydro One spokesperson said more than 50,000 customers lost power due to the damage caused by the weather system. An estimated 20,000 customers were still without power by Monday afternoon.
Dominic Commissio was hosting an outdoor customer appreciation event for his deli north of Toronto when the storm struck. He said the 300 attendees were forced to run for cover.
"I'm telling you it was unreal, I've never experienced anything like that before in my life. Never.," said Commissio.
Storm earlier today on Blyth Rd, contained Golf Ball Hail and a potential (not confirmed..yet) rain wrapped tornado. pic.twitter.com/266EQ8hdP6— S Sills (@SpencerSills) August 3, 2015
The evening storm was a perfect subject for sky-watching photographers, many of whom captured some stunning photos of the weather front’s “shelf” cloud sweeping in. The storm clouds arrived in a rippling line, which made for some dramatic sights.
A storm cloud seen over Whitby Marina, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. (Mike Burley / MyNews)
Storm clouds are shown over Bowmanville, Ont., on Aug. 2, 2015. (Alex Ogden / MyNews)