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Potential tornado 'surreal' for residents who witnessed damaging storm in southern Ontario

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Witnessing a potential tornado was “surreal” for residents who caught a glimpse of the damaging storm in southern Ontario on Wednesday night.

At around 9:35 p.m., Mona Ashim, was on her way home from work when a dark funnel cloud could be seen in the distance as lightning flashed across the stormy sky near Alliston, Ont.

“I had never seen anything like that before,” Ashim said. While her husband drove through heavy droplets of rain, she saw a tornado warning pop up on her phone.

  • Watch video of a potential tornado in southern Ontario in the player above

Environment Canada released the warning for Newmarket, Bradford, Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, and Bradford West Gwillimbury. It alerted residents: “This is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation.”  

Meanwhile, in Bradford, Gabriel Berardo posted a video as the storm brewed. “It looks to be intensifying, actually,” he said around 9 p.m., standing in front of heavy storm clouds and a sky flickering with lightning. “There is rotation on it and it appears to be strengthening.”

Just 30 minutes later, he captured video of a potential tornado. “It’s kind of scary, not going to lie,” he said as a funnel flashed in the distance.

Further south, Ethan Collins posted a video that appeared to be a timelapse of the storm in Newmarket. “This IS NOT a timelapse,” he clarified. “I took this as a tornado warning was issued.”

In the 30-second video, the sky flickered from pitch black to sudden strobes of light.

“The intensity of the lightning was surreal. It was making it hard to see what was going on in the sky,” Collins said Thursday morning recalling watching the storm.

“I knew if I saw large debris flying through the air, it would be time to take shelter. Thankfully it never came to that.”

Northern Tornadoes Project Executive Director Dr. David Sills said nearly all of the severe weather reports his team received on Wednesday were tied to hail – measuring up to 75mm – with very little in the way of wind damage, and no tornado sightings.

Active power outages continued to pepper southern Ontario on Thursday morning. “Our crews are out in full force responding as quickly and safely as possible to outages caused by damaging thunderstorms that continue to affect parts of the province,” Hydro One posted on its website.

“Outages are largely being caused by downed lines from trees or tree limbs,” the statement went on to say, noting the hardest hit areas as Huntsville, Bracebridge, Orillia, Barrie and Penetanguishene.

On Thursday morning, a sunny sky clear of clouds graced southern Ontario. 

“While we continue on with the fair but gusty conditions for Friday, the sunshine and seasonably warm weather will be short-lived. Another round of wet/stormy weather moves in Saturday afternoon. Much cooler winds arrive early next week,” CP24 Meteorologist Bill Coulter said.

“Enjoy or endure the early season summer-like warmth while it’s here.” 

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