Canada's top 10 weather stories for 2014: chapter 9
9. Angus Tornado
Environment Canada confirmed 19 tornadoes in Ontario in 2014; fewer than last year but more than the seasonal average of 12. Most tornadoes were weak and short lived, causing some damage but no deaths. The exception was an Enhanced Fujita Scale 2 (EF2) tornado in Angus, 18 km southwest of Barrie that hit just before the dinner hour on June 17. The storm was an offshoot of a potent weather system that had triggered rare double tornadoes and levelled a town in Nebraska the previous day.
The fast-moving storm raced across southern Ontario, spawning several strong-to-severe thunderstorms that raised anxiety and alertness across the province. Ominous skies and rolling thunderstorms led to tornado warnings in many areas including Hamilton, Barrie and Newmarket.
Before noon, lightning injured four golfers north of Toronto - one critically - and generated funnel cloud/twister sightings near Walkerton, Hanover and Angus. Around 5:00 p.m. a line of severe thunderstorms moved into the Lake Simcoe region and ten to fifteen minutes later a tornado tore through the community of Angus. Rated at the high end of an EF2, it featured peak winds between 200 and 220 km/h, a width of 300 m at its widest point and tracked over 20 km. On two streets in Angus, residents were stunned by the carnage that tore neighbourhoods apart. Winds damaged up to 102 homes (14 beyond repair) and left 300 homeless.
The debris field stretched nearly a kilometre, with some houses missing roofs, walls and even top floors. The swirling mass of punishing winds, thunder and lightning blew out windows, tore up fences and sheds, flipped over vehicles, uprooted trees and tossed hot tubs. At a nearby storage facility, shipping containers weighing 2,500 to 5,000 kg were flipped seven metres in the air. Insurance claims exceeded $30 million but, miraculously, no one was seriously injured and only three people suffered minor injuries. In the wake of the tornado, municipal officials declared a week-long state of emergency.
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