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Videos show damaging tornado touching down in south Ottawa

Eastern Ontario and Southern Quebec communities on high alert as severe storms and tornadoes strike.

Communities in eastern Ontario and southern Quebec were thrown into a state of emergency on Thursday afternoon as dangerous storm activity swept through the region, prompting widespread concern.

Various parts of Ontario and Quebec experienced hazardous weather conditions, with severe thunderstorms triggering tornado warnings specifically in eastern Ontario and southern Quebec.

The severity of the situation became apparent shortly before 1 pm, when warnings were issued for several areas in the Ottawa region, including Ottawa North, Ottawa South, Kanata, and Orleans. Meteorologists described the situation as "a dangerous and potentially life-threatening scenario," urging residents to take immediate precautions.

While The Weather Network had previously warned the public about overnight thunderstorms that could bring heavy rainfall, intense lightning, hail, and even tornadoes to southern Ontario, the actual extent of the damage and speed at which the storm escalated took many citizens by surprise.

As conditions worsened throughout the day, a tornado watch for the eastern provinces and portions of Quebec was upgraded to a warning. The turbulent and convective storm system played a significant role in the intensification of the weather event.

Terrifying footage of a tornado touching down in Barrhaven, Ontario, located just a 25-minute drive south of Ottawa and a little over four hours from Toronto, began circulating on social media. The videos revealed the devastating power of the tornado as it whipped up debris, including shingles and other materials, with strong winds.

The authorities and emergency response teams are working diligently to assess the impact of the tornado and provide support to affected communities. It is crucial for residents to remain vigilant, follow official instructions, and prioritize their safety during this challenging time. 

Photo by Randy Milanovic on Unsplash

Tornado Safety

Ontario averages about 12 tornadoes a year, usually between May and September. From the extreme southwest of the province to the farthest northern tip, a tornado can strike anywhere.

Environment Canada issues warnings when tornadoes are imminent or already detected. The Ontario government assists in distributing these alerts to the public.

Hazard information

According to the Ontario Government, a tornado (or twister) is a powerful rotating column of wind that can hurt people and damage property. Very large thunderstorms can create many tornadoes. Tornadoes can appear after a heavy rain or hail in a sky that is green, yellow or black.

You can check local weather and forecasts for weather warnings online.

Safety tips

  • Be aware of weather conditions and warnings
  • Seek shelter immediately if a warning has been issued or you believe one could occur

If you're indoors:

  • The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement or safe room.
  • If you don't have a basement, go to the centre of an interior room on the lowest level away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls - put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
  • Get under a sturdy piece of furniture — use your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • Don't open windows.

If you're outdoors:

  • don't wait until you see the tornado to get inside
  • if you can't get inside, lie flat in a ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands
  • don't go under an overpass or bridge - you're safer in a low, flat area

If you're in a mobile home:

  • Go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately. Mobile homes do not offer much protection from tornadoes.

If power outage results:

Prepare now

  • Have a safe room in your home where everyone gathers during a tornado — a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Conduct a tornado drill to make sure everyone knows where to go if a tornado is coming.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage.