All tornado watches and warnings have ended for Ottawa and eastern Ontario, after a series of thunderstorms moved across the region.
Environment Canada lifted the tornado watch for Ottawa at 5:30 p.m. The weather agency issued the tornado watch advisory just before 11:30 a.m. Thursday, warning conditions were favourable for the development of a severe thunderstorms which may produce tornadoes.
Earlier in the afternoon, tornado warnings were issued for the Kingston, Ont. and Belleville, Ont. areas.
A cell moved through the Ottawa area just before 4 p.m., bringing heavy rain and wind gusts to the capital.
Severe damage was reported south and east of Ottawa.
CTV News Ottawa’s Nate Vandermeer says heavy rain and strong winds hit the Lyn, Ont. area west of Belleville. Multiple trees and wires were knocked down on Devil’s Door Road
David Sills of Western University’s Northern Tornadoes Project said on Twitter that an area from Rice Lake to Belleville was hardest hit. Hydro Ottawa reported approximately 20,000 customers without power in the Belleville area.
Jeanette Arsenault said on Twitter that there was damage on Front Street in Belleville. Debris covered the road and there was damage to several buildings on the street.
Meterologists warn of conditions ripe for ‘likely tornado’
Meteorologists warned that the weather conditions expected on Thursday will provide “significant ingredients” for a “likely tornado.”
Western University’s Northern Tornadoes Project issued a tweet Wednesday saying its Day 2 outlook has meteorologists “expecting sufficient ingredients to come together in parts of (eastern) Ontario and (southern) Quebec (Thursday) for a ‘Likely Tornado’ threat.”
“Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms that could produce tornadoes this afternoon,” the weather agency warned. “This is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation.”
Environment Canada’s forecast calls for a 60 per cent chance of showers or thunderstorms this afternoon, with a high of 28 C. It will feel like 37 degrees with the humidex.
David Sills of the Northern Tornadoes Project tells CTV News Ottawa people should “pay close attention” to Environment Canada warnings.
“NTP meteorologists produce a tornado forecast to make sure our damage survey teams are prepared for action,” Sills said.
“The forecast for (Thursday) includes an area of eastern Ontario and southern Quebec where ingredients are likely to come together to form severe storms and the threat of a tornado. Given the amount of damage in these areas from the May 21 derecho, we’re, of course, hoping that the computer model guidance and our interpretation of it is wrong and we’ll get through tomorrow without additional damage.”
CTV News at Five anchor Matt Skube asked about the ingredients that could trigger a tornado in Ottawa.
“We’ve got this cold front coming through tomorrow, lots of warm moist air ahead of it and we need wind shear, we need an increase of wind speed with height in the atmosphere in order to get storms that are well organized and could produce severe weather,” Sills said.
Sills says there is a “good chance” of severe storms in an area including Toronto and Kingston, while for the Ottawa region the “likelihood is higher that a tornado will occur.”
Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips says Environment Canada classifies the risk of a severe thunderstorm in the Ottawa and eastern Ontario region on Thursday as “medium.”
“Keep an eye on the sky and the forecast close by and do the right thing if it does break out. My sense is that it’s just a medium kind of risk,” Phillips told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron. “We could end up with a bit of wind and a short lived thing, but with no kind of rotating clouds or twisters that will occur in your listening area.”
Phillips says the hot and humid temperatures in the forecast on Thursday will be “fuel in the air” as a cold front moves through the area.
“It’s going to be an undercutting cold front that’s going to take that fuel, that heat and humidity, and push it up and just give it a little bit more, like steroids, like an oomph you say, so that can lead to severe thunderstorms,” Phillips said. “Not every severe thunderstorm has a tornado; thankfully, I think less than 10 per cent. But the strong winds can blow things around, you can get hail that can be golf ball size and some torrential rains.
“Yes, there can be the pop-up kind of tornado that can hit there or over there, so that’s one we have to always be mindful of.”
The Northern Tornadoes Project’s warning of a “likely tornado” comes weeks after a powerful derecho caused widespread damage on May 21.
“I can understand the people of eastern Ontario being a little threatened. You’ve had tornadoes back there in September 2018, some of the most powerful tornadoes in eastern Canada in years, and then you had one on June 2 the following year, less than nine months and you sort of had back-to-back tornado events,” Phillips said.
“Then of course you had the big derecho that came through Ontario on May 21, so I think you maybe feel your snake bite and I think anytime severe weather comes up there’s some nervousness.”
The first tornado of the year in Ontario was spotted near Casselman last month. The Northern Tornadoes Project said an EFO landspout tornado formed on May 15.