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Ontario storm damage examined

Hydro repair in Bridgenorth, Ontario. Click on the photo for a closer look at the storm damage
Hydro repair in Bridgenorth, Ontario. Click on the photo for a closer look at the storm damage

Lisa Varano, staff writer

June 12, 2011 — Environment Canada has an idea of what caused extensive storm damage in Ontario.

Light show in Oakville, Ontario
Light show in Oakville, Ontario

Severe storms caused hurricane-force peak winds in eastern Ontario and a tornado warning in southern Ontario last week, but Environment Canada suspects the worst damage was caused by straight-line winds -- powerful gusts that come out of the base of thunderstorms.

Days after Wednesday's storms knocked out power, splintered trees, and damaged buildings, there was still debris to clear away in areas north of Peterborough.

One Bridgenorth resident, continuing his storm cleanup on Friday, said he heard a tree snapping in the wind at the height of the storm.

“It whiplashed it. It went back, and then forward, and then threw it right across the whole road -- and then that took out the hydro lines,” he told The Weather Network.

On Sunday, close to 8,000 Hydro One customers were without power for a fifth day, mostly in the hardest-hit areas in eastern Ontario, said Hydro One spokesperson Alexandra Stadnyk. She said the power company hoped to restore electricity to homes by the end of the weekend.

Fallen tree in Coboconk, Ontario
Fallen tree in Coboconk, Ontario

Environment Canada sent teams to survey the storm damage in eastern and southern Ontario. Straight-line winds seem to have caused the damage, the agency said in an updated weather summary released on the weekend.

But Environment Canada said these findings are preliminary, and the investigation may not be over yet.

“Due to the large number of areas across southern Ontario that experienced some form of damage from these storms, Environment Canada may continue to investigate other significant areas of damage,” the weather agency said.

Significant damage east of Lake Simcoe appears to have been caused by peak winds of 120 to 140 km/hr, according to the weather summary. Those are hurricane-force wind gusts.

Straight-line winds gusting to 100 km/h are consistent with the damage in the Coboconk and Minden Hills areas. The same type of weather also toppled power poles and large trees near Campbellford, east of Peterborough.

Straight-line winds caused by a downburst produced similar damage to trees and buildings in the Scarborough Bluffs of Toronto.

Environment Canada has also said that strong straight-line winds caused by downbursts were responsible for damage during a tornado warning in Hamilton.

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