Andrea Stockton and Lyndsay Morrison, staff writers
April 29, 2011 — Thursday's powerful winds are being associated with the death of a man in Grimsby, Ontario. Boaters on Hamilton Harbour were pushed into the water as fierce winds whipped through the region.
It's been a week of wet, stormy and windy weather in Ontario - and Thursday proved to be no exception.
Powerful winds whipped across the province uprooting trees, causing structural damage and contributing to at least one death. According to police in Grimsby, an elderly man died. Few details about the victim have been released.
The wind also contributed to some major problems at two schools in St. Catharines. At one of them, Lockview school, part of the rooftop was ripped off by the powerful winds. No injuries were reported. At the other school, St. Catharines Collegiate on Catherine street, was forced into lockdown mode after power lines were torn down near the property. Parents were asked to stay away until the all clear was given.
On Thursday morning, Environment Canada issued a wind warning with the risk of winds gusting upwards of 90 km/h for areas adjacent to Lake Erie and western Lake Ontario. Several communities were still assessing the damage from Wednesday's string of severe thunderstorms.
Rob Davis, a meteorologist at The Weather Network said the city of Hamilton saw sustained winds of 84 km/h. That caused severe problems on the Hamilton Harbour and sent some boaters into the water. At least seven boats capsized prompting a frantic air search.
30 people were plucked from the water by marine units and no serious injuries were reported. Most of the people were part of McMaster University's senior rowing club. The rowers say conditions were calm during the early morning hours, but changed rapidly as the wind picked up.
The Ontario Provincial Police reported the closure of the Burlington Skyway in both directions. Both directions of the QEW were also closed around 9:30 a.m. A tractor trailer rolled over on its side closing all lanes of the highway.
This stretch of roadway can be dangerous during bad weather.
“The weather can impact the skyway in a number of ways of course there is the usual with rain and snow which can create traction problems for traffic,” said Will MacKenzie with the Ministry of Transportation.
“The other big thing is wind on the skyway...When the winds hit roughly 60 km/h we’ll put up a sign that says 'strong winds on the skyway, drive carefully.' Once it gets close to 80 or 100 km/h an hour, we put the severe wind warnings up,” explains MacKenzie.
With files from The Canadian Press and News Talk 610