A deadly tornado that ripped through a rural part of Manitoba is now classified as an EF-4.

Jack Furrie, a 77-year-old retired teacher, was killed in the Aug. 3 tornado. Two other people were hospitalized.

The tornado touched down near the community of Alonsa, Man., about 200 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. It made its way through a rural area and a beach before dissipating over Lake Manitoba.

Environment Canada meteorologist Justin Shaer says the tornado was 800 metres wide at its peak and spent about 45 minutes on the ground. Its peak sustained wind speed is believed to have been between 270 and 280 km/h.

Shaer says Environment Canada investigators have found significant evidence of damage caused by the tornado, including trees which had been broken or de-barked. Some trees that measure one metre wide had been snapped in two.

The tornado was powerful enough to lift several homes off their foundations and move heavy items such as tractors and trucks. One vehicle was swept into Lake Manitoba.

Furrie was the first person to be killed by a tornado in Canada since 2011. Friday’s tornado was the most powerful one to be confirmed in Canada since the country switched to the enhanced Fujita scale for measuring tornadoes in 2013.

Mark Good and his family were at home on their farm when he saw the tornado in the distance.

“I was standing in the middle of the yard and basically the whole sky was turning in a circle. I was just in awe of it,” said farmer Mark Good.

Good’s wife grabbed their daughter and the family jumped in their truck as the tornado began to move towards them.

“We raced half a mile to the other end of the field we were in because the wind had picked up and it was starting to pick things up and throw stuff around and we watched it from there,” he said.

Good said it will be years before the family has things returned to the way they were before the tornado hit.

“In the yard we’ve lost the shed and there’s stuff floating around the yard. It didn’t hit our house, which we’re very fortunate that it didn’t wreck,” he added.

No warning for many in tornado’s path

Many people in the Alonsa area reported having issues with cell phone connections around the time of the tornado.

Tanis Zdan told CTV Winnipeg she never received the public alert that was supposed to be received by all phones in the area. She also was unable to receive calls and messages from her daughter, who was trying to warn her about the tornado.

“It makes you mad,” she said.

Amanda Prysizney, part of the Environment Canada team sent to the area, said “almost everyone” investigators spoke with said they did not get the emergency alert.

A spokesperson for BellMTS said “some pockets” of the area “may have seen reduced coverage” and may not have been able to connect to the LTE networks required to receive the alerts.

“We continue to look at possible solutions to enhance service in those areas,” Michelle Gazze said in an email.

The lack of strong cell service in the area also hindered investigators, who were unable to use their drone to get an aerial view of the remnants of Furrie’s home.

With a report from CTV Winnipeg’s Beth Macdonell