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Did Hamilton see a tornado?


Thunderstorms brought frequent lightning, torrential downpours and gusty winds to parts of southern Ontario Wednesday
Thunderstorms brought frequent lightning, torrential downpours and gusty winds to parts of southern Ontario Wednesday

Lyndsay Morrison & Sana Ahmed, staff writers

June 9, 2011 — A cluster of storms quickly developed into a supercell in the early morning hours of Wednesday, prompting Environment Canada to issue a tornado warning for the city of Hamilton.

Tree damage in Fergus, ON
Tree damage in Fergus, ON

Hamilton residents were busy speculating if a tornado actually hit the city.

All the ingredients were there for thunderstorms in southern Ontario late Tuesday night. It was hot, it was muggy, and there was instability in the atmosphere.

Before long, a cluster of storm cells were rolling in off of Lake Huron. They prompted Environment Canada to issue a tornado watch for communities like Mount Forest, Kincardine and Wingham. Eventually, the city of Hamilton was placed under a tornado warning.

“The stage was set for something like this to happen,” says Rob Davis, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. “The whole day was very unstable and there was a lot of humidity. When that short-wave trough moved through, the result was some pretty intense thunderstorms.”

Lightning ripped across the sky in the area, while torrential downpours and roaring thunder woke many residents from their sleep. Gusty winds knocked down dozens of trees, especially in the Guelph and Fergus areas.

Widespread thunderstorm risk across Ontario Thursday
Widespread thunderstorm risk across Ontario Thursday

After an investigation, Environment Canada issued a statement that pointed out the absence of a tornado.

However, Environment Canada did declare that damage in areas from Ancaster to Guelph was due to strong straight line winds caused by downbursts. Areas stretching from Fergus to Hamilton saw an estimated 1,700 strikes of lightning per hour.

Strong winds and torrential downpours were also the cause of substantial damage to property. Cases of power outages and fallen trees were reported due to the severe weather conditions.

There is a chance for more severe thunderstorm activity through the afternoon hours on Thursday.

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