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Tornado touched down in Oro-Medonte (15 photos)

Environment Canada officials confirm tornado; 'We are not out of the woods quite yet,' says weather watcher of impending storms

Environment Canada officials confirmed this morning that a tornado touched down in Oro-Medonte Monday night.

“We can confirm (a tornado) in the Hawkestone area of Oro-Medonte between Orillia and Barrie,” said Geoff Coulson, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada.

Dr. David Sills, an Environment Canada expert in summer severe weather, captured the tornado on the dashcam of his car, said Coulson.

“(He) is an expert in summer severe weather and was actually out following the storm,” said Coulson, noting Stills lives in Barrie.

Oro-Medonte resident Ian Hendley also got up close and personal with the tornado when it ripped through his Somerset Boulevard neighbourhood of Oro Station.

Like many, Hendley received notification of the tornado warning on his phone. “So I went and looked on the Weather Network to see what was happening and saw it was close,” Hendley said Tuesday morning.

“I went upstairs to take a look and saw the way the clouds were moving,” said Hendley. “I started seeing uplift and spinning … as I was observing from the back deck. (Then) I saw a funnel cloud starting to develop and it touched down and I saw some debris in the field about 1,000 yards behind the house.”

As he retreated to the basement, the tornado swept through his lot. “I heard the wind and heard a bunch of debris come up against the back of the house and heard like a suction noise … and then it was gone.”

He estimates the tornado came and went in less than 20 seconds. “It’s amazing how much damage can be done in such a short time.”

A wall on the north side of his house “was sucked out from the wind”, siding was ripped off and an outdoor shed was lifted from its base. “It was like the shed was picked up, the contents squeezed out and then it was thrown back on the ground.”

Fortunately, the tornado was not as strong as it could have been. “I can’t imagine what an F3 or F4 tornado would look like.”

Coulson said it was too early to determine the classification of Monday night’s tornado. “It’s difficult to say at this point,” he said.

He noted Sills will be out visiting the area this morning to “take a closer look at the damage path to get a better sense” of peak wind speeds. It’s “something we will investigate further.”

Even as the storm is being investigated, there is concern similar weather could be on its way.

“In fact, over the next 48 hours there is potential again for strong thunderstorms that could produce damaging weather like this,” said Coulson. “Lots of ingredients that came together last evening are still present for the next two days.”

He noted there is a lot of moisture in the lower level of the atmosphere that is very unstable. He said an expected cold front Wednesday could spur strong thunderstorms.

“We are not out of the woods quite yet,” said Coulson. “It’s a good idea for folks to keep an eye on updates.”

It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your cell phones. Many received the tornado warnings as alerts on their smart phones.

“The latest generation phones have the chip required for the alert ready system,” said Coulson, noting those within the range of a cell tower in the ‘warned area' received alerts directly to their phones. He said it helps Environment Canada provide targeted warnings as opposed to blanket statements sent to a wide geographical area.

He said it’s vital for people to heed the messages.

“When we get to a tornado warning stage, a tornado could already be occurring in the area,” said Coulson. “Our recommendation is certainly that folks take these seriously because the forecasters spend a lot of effort and time trying to determine which ones demand this level of attention. They are always treading that fine line of not wanting to cry wolf.”


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Dave Dawson

About the Author: Dave Dawson

Dave Dawson is community editor of
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