Jill Colton, staff writer
July 4, 2011 — Rumbling thunderstorms marched their way across the Lower Great Lakes Region on Saturday.
The Canada Day long weekend wasn't all fun and games for southern Ontario residents, especially when it came to the weather. A vicious round of thunderstorms tracked across the region Saturday, resulting in everything from intense lightning strikes to chunks of hail.
The day began on a hot and muggy note. Humidex and smog advisories were in place. Some cities in the extreme southwest were feeling closer to 45.
It was the humid conditions that laid the foundation for the storms. “The cold front sliced through the region, and it really helped spark the instability,” explains Gerald Cheng, a meteorologist with The Weather Network.
Winds gusted upwards of 80 km/h, kicking up a sand storm on the beaches in Grand Bend. At one point, visibility was reduced to less than one km.
The ominous clouds gave way to frequent lightning strikes that helped light up the night. Forks of electricity left onlookers with an amazing glimpse of nature.
It also helped knock out the power to nearly 24,000 customers. Hydro One crews spent the weekend trying to repair the damages. Electricity has since been restored to all but a couple thousand households.
Essex County reported a mess of downed trees and residents in Leamington were greeted with 2 to 3 cm sized hail.
By Sunday evening, the storms tracked into Quebec, inundating parts of the province with heavy downpours, high winds and hail pebbles.
The powerful storm comes off another intense system that roared through Ontario and Quebec last Tuesday. Lightning strikes caused at least four separate house fires in the Ottawa area.