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Weather History: Remembering 'Black Friday'


A tractor-trailer lies on its' side following a tornado in Barrie. Click the image for more on 'Black Friday.'
A tractor-trailer lies on its' side following a tornado in Barrie. Click the image for more on 'Black Friday.'

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

May 31, 2011 — On this day in weather history, deadly tornadoes roared across parts of Ontario, including the city of Barrie.

13 tornadoes touched down on May 31, 1985
13 tornadoes touched down on May 31, 1985

It's been called the deadliest storm to hit Ontario since Hurricane Hazel. On May 31, 1985, a string of storms spawned 13 tornadoes. 12 people were killed and hundreds of others were injured.

Six of the twisters were rated F3 or greater on the Fujita scale, meaning winds were gusting to 250km/h.

“We lost three churches, 65 homes were damaged beyond repair,” says Grand Valley resident Rick Taylor. The city, which is about an hour north of Toronto, faced the storm head on. The tornado stayed on the ground for over 100km. After killing two people in Grand Valley the tornado tracked towards Tottenham and finally dissipated near Mount Albert.

Another twister touched down farther north, devastating the city of Barrie and surrounding area. The aftermath from that storm was described as a 'war zone.'

12 people were killed by the tornadoes
12 people were killed by the tornadoes

Captain Kevin Mason from C.F.B. Borden was on site to help with the search and clean up efforts. He says, “my particular function along with several other military police were to actually search the rubble and have a look for potential victims in any of the houses that were hit.”

Mason described the affects as devastating. “Immediately we knew we were into something very serious.”

It was a day that came to be known as 'Black Friday.' Trees were uprooted, cars tossed and homes destroyed. 8 people were also killed. More than 1,000 homes were damaged across four communities. Damages in Barrie were estimated at 100 million dollars.

With files from Lyndsay Morrison

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