Midland storm was an F2 tornado, experts confirm
The tornado that whipped through Ontario cottage country Wednesday was an F2 storm that saw high winds reach between 180 kilometres and 240 kilometres an hour.
Environment Canada confirmed the strength of the tornado late Thursday.
The severe storm resulted in downed power lines, strewn rooftops and toppled trees throughout the Midland, Ont. region.
Weather experts also say they are investigating a possible second tornado in the Washago area, located north of Orillia.
That storm was significantly weaker. Winds likely peaked between 120 kilometres and 170 kilometres an hour, rendering it an F1 tornado.
Officials say they are uncertain whether the two towns were hit by the same tornado.
"We are leaning towards separate because we can't find damage in between those areas," said meteorologist Geoff Coulson.
Property destruction was also reported in southwestern Ontario, in a camp ground east of Amherstburg, in Essex county at about 10:30 p.m. Judging from the damage, winds in that area likely reached 110 kilometres an hour.
Midland, located on the southeast edge of Georgian Bay, was hit by a severe storm shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday evening.
Although it was part of a severe weather system that put much of the province under a rare "red alert", local residents say it came "out of the blue."
A trailer park in the town appears to have borne the brunt of the storm's damage.
Midland Mayor Jim Dower said damage to the approximately 360 mobile home units is extensive.
"It looks like about 60 have been totally destroyed and another 60 per cent badly damaged," Downer told Canada AM Thursday morning.
Residents described the twister as "something out of a movie."
"The trailer started flipping, tossing and turning, and all I saw was my legs going over my head. It was very, very scary," one resident told CTV Toronto.
"The clouds just started funneling down all around us . . . and started picking up all the water. I've never seen water come out of the sky like that before," another said.
In the aftermath of the storm, Downer declared a state of emergency for his town of approximately 16,300 residents. While search teams are still scouring the wreckage of the trailer park, hunting for any victims of the storm, the mayor remains optimistic everyone is accounted for.
"We just want to be absolutely sure," Downer said.
Emergency Management Ontario had issued a red alert Wednesday evening for a large swath of central Ontario. From Penetanguishene to the north, Barrie to the south, Collingwood to the west, and Orillia to the east, residents were asked to seek shelter from the potentially severe weather.
Environment Canada also had issued a tornado warning for Barrie, Orillia and the Penetanguishene area, a warning that extended northwards to the Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes area later in the evening. All tornado warnings in Ontario were dropped overnight.
The threat of severe weather continued Thursday, however, as Emergency Management Ontario issued another "Red Alert" for the areas of Port Carlin, Port Severn, Rosseau and Killbear Park. Citing the threat of severe thunderstorms, residents in those areas were warned to seek shelter until the alerts were rescinded shortly before 10 a.m.
The storm struck just hours after the area was shaken by a magnitude 5.0 earthquake centred in rural Quebec.
Prepared with files from CTV's John Vennavally-Rao and The Canadian Press