Tornado damage in southwestern Ontario could have been much worse
LONDON, ONT. -- Ontario’s first official tornadoes of the year cut a path straight through the London area on Wednesday evening.
A dark funnel cloud outside Glencoe, Ont. was captured on video. It shows the storm swirling and throwing up dust. It downed power lines, felled trees and damaged buildings.
Less than an hour later, at about a quarter to nine, a tornado touched down in Thames Centre.
Environment Canada has confirmed two tornadoes touched down as a line of severe thunderstorms moved through the area, leaving thousands without power for hours.
Tornado warnings had been issued for both areas as the evening went on.
At the Crinklaw family farm in the south end of London, Ont., they were busy cleaning up on Thursday after the tornado cut a straight line through the property.
It knocked down trees and destroyed part of a barn. Pieces of barn roof were left scattered about the property, including large chunks lying on the front lawn. Homeowner Rod Crinklaw was just coming home as it was happening.
“Metal flying through the air at the intersection just as I was coming, so I stomped on the gas, got home. And at that time my barn was just kind of coming apart so I ran in the house, and I told my family to get to the basement.”
Just a few blocks away at Donna Hoogendoorn’s home, trees were downed and a loaded transport trailer was knocked over.
Hoogendoorn studied the destruction on her property and took it in stride.
“I’m alive. The tree could have come down on the house, it’s right beside the house, and I’m just lucky to be alive.”
The severe weather events attracted the Northern Tornadoes Project from Western University. David Sills, a professor in atmospheric sciences, confirmed it was an EF-1 tornado that hit in the Belmont area of Thames Centre.
“This is the remnants of tropical storm Cristobal that went through and was centred over Lake Superior, brought all this moisture to our area. So the cold front behind that ended up coming through that last night and triggered a bunch of heavy thunderstorms.”
Closer to London, repairs were underway at Westminster Trails Golf Club, which lost part of its clubhouse roof.
“I was freaking right out,” explained employee Krishawna Roy. She was the last one on the property when the storm blew through.
“I closed up and I was running to my car and that’s when I saw the roof go. There was just pieces all over the parking lot.”
Inside London, which just caught the edge of the storm, emergency crews dealt with several blocked roads because of downed trees and hydro wires, as well as a transformer on fire.
The path of damage to the southeast of London is estimated to be at least 10 kilometres long. Fortunately, it blew across fields for the most part.
It passed very close to Belmont but did not touch down inside the town, where it could have inflicted much greater damage.
There are no reports of injuries from either tornado.
With files from CTV's Sean Irvine, Matt Thompson and Justin Zadorsky.