Tornado that touched down in central Ontario went undetected by weather experts
TORONTO -- A tornado that caused minor damage in the City of Kawartha Lakes is raising questions on why no warning was issued before the dark funnel of wind arrived.
Environment Canada confirmed that a tornado touched down at Sturgeon Lake, in the City of Kawartha Lakes, on Tuesday just after 3 p.m., but the agency says it was “extremely difficult” to detect.
“We didn’t expect this. It was really an overachieving thunderstorm that produced a tornado,” Environment Canada meteorologist, Peter Kimbell, told CTV News Toronto on Wednesday. “It would have been really difficult for anybody to warn for and anybody to forecast.”
The weather agency confirmed the tornado after videos and pictures were submitted showing a funnel cloud over the lake, which is north of Lindsay, Ont.
Kimbell said that Tuesday’s tornado was very weak because “the instability and wind shear” were not sufficient enough to generate a typical supercell thunderstorm, which can sometimes spawn tornadoes.
“There was no velocity couplet [which indicates the potential for a tornado] that was easily detectable on the radar,” Kimbell said. “Some smaller scale tornadoes are just going to be extremely difficult to forecast.”
Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham told CTV News Toronto that the town is relieved the tornado didn’t cause any injuries, although there were some reports of damage to trees, hydro poles, and a boathouse.
“Our emergency services weren’t called out or anything and it looks like it was just a couple of sheds and maybe a garage that got damaged but nobody was hurt or anything thankfully,” he said Wednesday. “It could have been a lot worse."
The stormy weather, he said, thankfully ensured that no one was on the lakes when the tornado, which lasted about 10 to 20 minutes, hit.
“Obviously a warning would have helped but I think in this case it just caught everybody by surprise and thankfully it wasn’t too bad,” the mayor said.
“I think it reminds people that we can’t take things for granted … Whether it’s a pandemic or whether it’s a tornado we’re really not in control.”
“I think it shows that before you go out and about, listen to the weather and do your planning ahead.”
Ramona Kozak told CTV News Toronto on Tuesday night that the tornado yanked her family’s boathouse and threw it onto their lawn. She said she also saw a bunch of hydro poles knocked over.
“I think what shocked me the most was the strength of what happened …there is a lot of the foundation and the bricks and cement blocks on the ground,” she said. “It must have been a really strong wind."
Kimbell said that normally if a tornado warning goes out 20 minutes ahead of the actual event, then that’s a “pretty good lead time.”
“In this particular case, unfortunately, we didn’t get a warning out and there are very good reasons for that,” he said. “Sometimes, one might miss a tornado because somebody just missed something but in this case for any forecaster it would have been extremely difficult to put out a warning for it.”
On Thursday, researchers from Western University will survey the damage to categorize the tornado on the intensity scale, but Kimbell said he thinks it might fall into the F0 category.