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Tornadoes in Canada 2013

Summer severe weather season is well underway in Canada ... and it's not even summer yet! We've now had nation-wide 10 tornadoes (possibly 11):

Saskatchewan - 2 (possibly 3)        Ontario - 7         Quebec - 1

It's important to remember we do get tornadoes here in Canada as well as large, destructive tornadoes so make sure you have your severe weather plan in place especially if you're heading out camping, cottaging, boating, etc. On average, Saskatchewan sees 18 tornadoes a year based on recent data. Ontario on average sees 12 tornadoes a year.

This week looks active thunderstorm-wise for the Prairies as well as parts of Ontario so make sure you know your forecast for the day. 

Picture of tornado near Kenilworth, ON taken by Dave Patrick.

Below is an unofficial list of the tornadoes so far in Canada. The Saltcoats/Bredenbury tornado may be two separate tornadoes but that is unconfirmed.

Date F-Scale Location Province
4/18/13 EF1 Shelburne ON
5/21/13 EF2 Glenarm ON
5/21/13 EF0 Elmvale ON
5/21/13 EF0 Dalston ON
5/22/13 EF0 Mallorytown ON
5/29/13 EF0 Casselman ON
6/01/13 EF0 Kenilworth ON
6/01/13 EF0 Saint Hugues QC
6/02/13 EF0 Maple Creek SK
6/10/13 EF0 Saltcoats/Bredenbury SK

Tornadoes in Canada 2012

Note: Please keep in mind this is an unofficial list based on reports, E.C. confirmations, articles and videos.

It's been an active year for some parts of the country when it comes to tornadoes, and quiet when it comes to others. The Prairies have seen a high number of tornadoes this year whereas Ontario has been on the quiet side of things. Ontario had a couple of early tornadoes towards the end of May near Orono and Bourget as well as a couple of early tornadoes in Quebec.

When it comes to tornadoes across Ontario and Quebec, normally an investigation is completed by Environment Canada to determine if in fact it was a tornado and what the Fujita scale rating is. In the Prairies, due to several reasons including the fact that the area coverage of the E.C. offices is so large, normally an investigation is not conducted unless there is significant damage done. That being said, the Canadian Prairies were a hot spot for tornadoes and storm chasers this summer. A high number of tornadoes were caught on video or camera making confirming these tornadoes an easier task. A great majority of the tornadoes in the Prairies were spotted by Canadian storm chaser Greg Johnson, as well Mark Robinson was lucky enough to make it out to Saskatchewan to see a tornado near Moose Jaw.

Image of tornado captured by Greg Johnson, TornadoHunter.ca, in Sasktchewan on July 24, 2012.

June and July were busy months for Canadian severe weather forecasters and storm chasers. There were many tornado warnings and tornadoes across Alberta and Saskatchewan. We also had a couple incredible hail storms in Alberta. After researching tornado reports and referring back to old tornado warnings and articles, I've put together a list of Canadian tornadoes in 2012. I apologize in advance if I missed any (especially in the Prairies). Some of the reports weren't too specific on the exact location of the tornado.

**Update** Two more items have been added to the list. A probable tornado near Midland, Ontario from August 11. Thank you to Heather Reynolds for updated me with the information. Also a landspout near Stettler, Alberta on June 9. Thank you Nevin deMilliano for the information.

It looks as though the unofficial tornado tally for Canada is 42.

Date F-Scale Location Province
5/22/12 F0 Orono ON
5/25/12 F0 Brownsburg-Chatham QC
5/25/12 F1 Saint-Benoit section of Mirabel QC
5/29/12 F0 Bourget ON
6/05/12 N/A Taber AB
6/05/12 N/A Turin AB
6/05/12 N/A Brooks AB
6/05/12 N/A Bow Island AB
6/08/12 F1 Huntingdon QC
6/09/12 N/A Stettler AB
6/15/12 N/A Plover Lake, Biggar, Wilkie SK
6/15/12 N/A Plover Lake, Biggar, Wilkie SK
6/15/12 N/A Plover Lake, Biggar, Wilkie SK
6/15/12 N/A Plover Lake, Biggar, Wilkie SK
6/15/12 N/A Plover Lake, Biggar, Wilkie SK
6/15/12 N/A Plover Lake, Biggar, Wilkie SK
6/15/12 N/A Plover Lake, Biggar, Wilkie SK
6/15/12 N/A Plover Lake, Biggar, Wilkie SK
6/18/12 F1 Sioux Lookout ON
6/26/12 N/A Caron SK
6/26/12 N/A Hodgeville SK
7/03/12 F1 Olds AB
7/03/12 N/A Davidson SK
7/03/12 N/A Wynyard SK
7/03/12 N/A Watrous SK
7/17/12 F0 Summerstown ON
7/17/12 F1 Athens ON
7/18/12 N/A Rose Valley SK
7/18/12 N/A Wadena SK
7/18/12 N/A Wadena SK
7/21/12 N/A Smeaton SK
7/21/12 N/A Emma Lake SK
7/22/12 F0 Embro ON
7/24/12 N/A Balgonie SK
7/24/12 N/A Fillmore SK
7/24/12 N/A Southey SK
7/24/12 N/A Grenfell SK
7/24/12 N/A E of Regina SK
7/28/12 N/A Cremona AB
8/02/12 N/A Lake Diefenbaker SK
8/11/12 F0 Midland ON
8/30/12 F0 Chibougamau QC

And the Tornado Tally Keeps Rising

It's been a pretty active August for tornadoes in Ontario. The official 2011 count is now 13 tornadoes. On average, Ontario gets 12 tornadoes a year. Here is an updated list of the tornadoes so far this year:

  • April 27 - F0 near Fergus
  • June 23 - F0 near Ottawa River moving into Aylmer, Quebec
  • July 23 - F2 between Wyoming and Watford
  • August 8 - F0 near Plattsville
  • August 16 - F1 near Dryden, F1 near Lac Seul, F1 in the Ear Falls-Wenesaga area, F1 in the Ear Falls-Gerry Lake area
  • August 21 - F1 near Gananoque, F3 in Goderich
  • August 24 - F1 from Cambridge to Burlington, F1 near Nairn, F1 near Neustadt

Here is a map of the locations of the tornadoes in Ontario this year:

So, as you can see, Environment Canada has confirmed four separate tornadoes on the August 16th day in northwestern Ontario. 

I was out chasing with Mark Robinson on Wednesday, August 24. We did not witness any of the tornadoes but we were sitting under a strongly rotating meso. The storm was pretty close to forming a tornado but in the end it didn't. We ended up meeting up with some fellow Weather Network staff in London where we shot some amazing lightning. It was a pretty hectic day but I'm glad I was able to get out and chase, it had been a while.  Check out my Photography section to see a wonderful lightning shot I got that day. I'll try to edit video soon but it's been pretty hectic with all the storms and hurricanes.

Add Another Tornado to the List ...

At around 4:00pm ET today, Goderich was hit with a confirmed F3 tornado with winds estimated at 280 km/h. Environment Canada has conducted a thorough investigation of the damage path and determined the length of the track of the tornado was about 20 km. The width of the track varied from 1.5 km through Goderich to about 200 m to the southeast of town. The worst of the damage was through downtown Goderich. 

Photo credit: Joe Gowanlock

That's the tornado. There were scattered thunderstorms throughout Ontario and Michigan throughout the day. Earlier in the day a line of severe storms tore through the Greater Toronto Area causing power outages, tree damage and possibly even spawning a waterspout over Lake Ontario off the shore of Whitby.

I was woken up by the thunderstorms in Toronto and immediately grabbed my camera to film and went straight to radars, TV and social media. That's when I noticed the cell coming across Lake Huron. I messaged the meteorologist on staff at The Weather Network saying, "I know you're really busy right now but keep an eye on that cell over Lake Huron." About 5 - 10 minutes later, Environment Canada issues a tornado warning on the cell:

WWCN11 CWTO 211948
SEVERE WEATHER BULLETIN
ISSUED BY ENVIRONMENT CANADA
AT 3:48 PM EDT SUNDAY 21 AUGUST 2011.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
WATCHES/WARNINGS IN EFFECT FOR SOUTHERN ONTARIO...

TORNADO WARNING FOR:
=NEW= GODERICH - BLUEWATER - SOUTHERN HURON COUNTY
=NEW= STRATFORD - MITCHELL - SOUTHERN PERTH COUNTY.

      AT 3:30 PM EDT A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM IS OCCURRING OVER SOUTHERN
      LAKE HURON.  THIS THUNDERSTORM IS MOVING TO THE SOUTHEAST AT
      75 KM/H AND WILL MAKE LANDFALL NEAR GODERICH ABOUT 4 PM.
      THIS THUNDERSTORM HAS A HISTORY OF PRODUCING TORNADOES.

      SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS LIKELY PRODUCING TORNADOES ARE IMMINENT OR
      OCCURRING IN THE AREA.  LARGE HAIL, DAMAGING WINDS AND HEAVY
      RAINFALL MAY ALSO ACCOMPANY THESE STORMS.

Here's the menacing radar shot taken at 3:50pm ET (same time the warning was issued). Noticed the very well defined hook echo indicative of tornadic circulation:

When I saw that hook I had to do a double-take ... I thought this was "Tornado Alley" not southern Ontario. The storm came on shore and severely damaged the town of Goderich. You don't have to look far on the internet to find damage pictures and videos. One of the two compelling videos I've seen so far is the first video of the storm coming on shore and the second video of the damage afterwards:

 Video credit: cknxam920

Video credit: kshendryk

If you look carefully in the video of the storm coming on shore you can see the tornado within the rain curtains. Here is a still where you can make out the tornado hidden within.

Photo credit: cknxam920

Environment Canada has been conducting damage surveys in Goderich and determined the tornado was an F3. The last time Ontario saw an F3 tornado was on April 20, 1996 where two F3 tornadoes were confimed north of Fergus.

This Goderich tornado damaged roofs, destroyed walls, caused structural damage to homes, arenas and factories. Unfortunately there has been one confirmed fatality and numerous injuries. Trees were shredded, boats damaged and cars flipped over. 

I'm glad we were on the storm early here at The Weather Network and Environment Canada's warning was early as well. This is another reason why people should have weather radios. Unfortunate damage though ... Looking at it I was transported back to Tornado Alley. My thoughts are with the people of Goderich. The Weather Network's crew will be in Goderich throughout the day broadcasting live.

We had other reports of active weather today in Ontario. We had reports of a tornado in Gananoque (unconfirmed) with trees down, power line damage and damage to an above ground pool. We had reports of waterspouts over Lake Ontario near Whitby, over Lake Erie and over Georgian Bay near Parry Sound. Gusts were up to 80 - 100 km/h in Toronto with street and highway flooding. In East York they received almost 45 mm of rain in 10 minutes! 

As more information comes available I'll update this.

Active Atlantic

Another tropical system is born. At roughly 6pm eastern time, the National Hurricane Center annouced that Tropical Storm Irene had formed just east of the Antilles. Irene is the 9th tropical system of the Atlantic hurricane season. The track and public bulletins for Irene can be found here:

Irene Track      Irene Public Bulletin

There is a lot of uncertainty as to Irene's future due to the various land masses this storm will have to cross. Emily, a storm earlier this year, formed in a similar spot and got shredded by the terrain of Hispanoila (Emily's historical track). There are various model solutions to this storm. A southerly track could track it into the Gulf of Mexico, a northly track could track it through Florida and possible up the eastern coast. Again, there is a lot of uncertainty at this time as to the exact track of Irene. The National Hurricane Center's day 4 and day 5 track errors are 320 km - 400 km. Most tropical guidance indicate Irene becoming a hurricane. Irene could possible be the first hurricane of the 2011 season; we're at "I" and still no hurricane-status for any storms. However the intensity to which Irene reaches is highly dependent on the amount of land interaction it has with Hispanoila and Cuba.

According to the National Hurricane Center, this 2011 Atlantic hurricane season is the third earliest to have nine tropical systems named by this time. 2011 comes behind 2005 and 1936.

So what about Harvey? Harvey made landfall in Belize as a tropical storm and is bringing heavy rain to Belize, Guatemala, western Honduras and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Harvey is expected to dissipate into a depression tomorrow as it loses its energy source over land.

So let's tally up this year's Atlantic season. So far we've had ...

  • Arlene (Tropical Storm)
  • Bret (Tropical Storm)
  • Cindy (Tropical Storm)
  • Don (Tropical Storm - replaced retired "Dennis")
  • Emily (Tropical Storm)
  • Franklin (Tropical Storm)
  • Gert (Tropical Storm)
  • Harvey (currently active)
  • Irene (currently active)
  • Jose
  • Katia (replacing retired "Katrina")
  • Lee
  • Maria
  • Nate
  • Ophelia
  • Philippe
  • Rina (replacing retired "Rita")
  • Sean (replacing retired "Stan")
  • Tammy
  • Vince
  • Whitney (replacing retired "Wilma")

If you click on the retired storm names, you can read the National Hurricane Center's great and in-depth storm summaries.