Two Tornadoes Confirmed In Southwestern Ontario

Trees were uprooted, crushing a house when an F1 tornado tore through the Waterford area, June 13, 2018. Photo courtesy of the OPP.

Environment Canada has confirmed not one, but two tornadoes tore through Haldimand, Norfolk, and Oxford counties earlier this week.

According to the national weather agency, Ontario’s first twisters of the year were embedded in a severe thunderstorm that ripped through the region around 3pm on Wednesday.

A team of investigators sent to the towns of Jarvis and Waterford to survey the damage found several trees were uprooted or sheared apart, multiple barns were destroyed, a flagpole snapped, and a porch collapsed. Branches were also found ingrained in the roof of a house, while several other buildings had lost shingles.

The investigative team originally determined the damage was the result of an Enhanced Fujita Scale 1 (EF1) tornado, but has since upgraded the strength to an Enhanced Fujita Scale 2 (EF2) twister with peak winds near 180 km/h. The damage was also said to be intermittent along a path approximately 32 km long and with a maximum width of 500 metres.

“It is on the higher end of the tornado scale,” said Environment Canada Meteorologist Gerald Cheng.

Based on video evidence, Environment Canada confirmed a second tornado touched down near Norwich around the same time as the first. It has been categorized as an EF-0, with minimal damage reported in the area.

The province’s tornado season has gotten off to a late start this year, according to Cheng.

“Usually in May we would have already put out a few tornado warnings and had our first confirmed tornado. So this for southwestern Ontario is an atypical season because we are starting the severe weather really late,” said Cheng.

Last year’s first confirmed twister touched down near Thamesford on April 11, ripping the roof off a barn, and downing trees and power lines.

On average, Ontario sees 12 twisters a year, while across the country there are usually between 60 to 80.