Up to four tornadoes swept a path of destruction through southwestern Ontario last Thursday, with the closest one to Brockton touching down in Durham.Warning preparedness meteorologist Peter Kimbell of Environment Canada spoke to The WHT Friday, and called it the "busiest day I've ever had"."Thunderstorms are par for the course this time of year, but this was a particularly strong outbreak," he said. "Due to a low-level jet of winds screaming in from the south, in addition to some very moist and very unstable air, combined with some sunshine in the morning that allowed temperatures to climb, we saw some significant weather, that's for sure."In Brockton, the skies darkened after lunchtime on Thursday. Severe downpours of rain and moderate to high winds hit the Walkerton area around 2 p.m., but dissipated between 5 and 6 p.m. Other areas in southwestern Ontario weren't as fortunate. Kimbell said numerous homes, barns and businesses in the Durham area were reported damaged, trees were uprooted and thousands of people were left without power.It was a similar story in the City of Vaughan, where a second F2 tornado (with wind speeds between 180 and 240 km/hour) is reported to have touched down. Many roofs were blown off homes, trees were uprooted, garage doors were pulled off, and in some cases, walls of homes were completely demolished."It's unusual in that we don't see (several tornadoes in one day) every day, but it has happened before," noted Kimbell. "On August 14th, 2006, there were 14 in one day in cottage country and on May 31st, 1985, there were 13 separate tornadoes in the Barrie area."Environment Canada sent teams to the Durham, Markdale, Thornbury and Craigleith areas following the storms, but Kimbell said getting confirmation that tornadoes were responsible for the devastation would take time."I haven't got a confirmation back from them that yes, it was a tornado, but I have no doubt that yes it was," he said of the Durham sighting."Typically you would see a tornado come from a super-cell, creating a rotating updraft that dominates the environment and kills neighbouring storms. That was not the case this time; we saw a long north-to-south squall line with isolated tornadoes in some of the more serious thunderstorms."Environment Canada's weather station in Mount Forest recorded 18 millimetres of rain last Thursday, but Kimbell said it's possible more precipitation may have fallen in neighbouring towns.In Walkerton, the rainwater couldn't drain fast enough into the storm sewers, resulting in flooding on both Jackson and Yonge Streets. Most of the rainfall said Kimbell, fell between 2 and 6 p.m.
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