Thursday, June 30, 2022

‘This is unbelievable’: Intense thunderstorm rolls through Toronto

Sunny skies darkened in the blink of an eye. A severe thunderstorm with “almost hurricane force winds,” according to one meteorologist, materialized out of nowhere Saturday afternoon, downing hydro linescutting power and smashing up houses across Ontario.

“Wow, this is unbelievable,” said Weather Network meteorologist Mark Robinson in a video dispatch during the storm. Robinson crouched behind his car to avoid debris flying toward him. “I cannot describe how strong these winds are,” he said. “It’s absolutely amazing.”

Daniel Liota, a meteorologist at Environment Canada’s storm prediction centre, told the Star that Saturday’s storm had wind speeds equivalent to a low-grade tornado. As a result, the agency sent out text message warnings urging Ontarians to seek immediate shelter. It was the first time this had ever been done for a storm in the province, he said.

“Meteorologists are tracking a very dangerous thunderstorm capable of producing destructive wind gusts and up to toonie-sized hail,” the alert said. The agency further warned of possible tornadoes, characterizing the storm as a “dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation.”

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At Royal York Station in Toronto, a train was rendered immobile after running over a tree downed by the storm. Police had to evacuate stranded passengers through the tunnels.

Several trees were flung into cars in the Riverdale area of ​​Toronto with enough force to crack windshields.

'This is unbelievable': Intense thunderstorm rolls through Toronto
'This is unbelievable': Intense thunderstorm rolls through Toronto

In London, Ont., Nicole Fice tweeted a photo of her neighbor’s caved-in front porch after the storm hurtled trees into it.

A large tree was seen completely uprooted from beneath concrete in Cambridge, Ont.

One wildlife enthusiast on Twitter warned that, with so many trees strewn about by the storm, many squirrel and bird nests would be knocked out of place.

The images and videos were posted to Twitter as Environment Canada issued the severe thunderstorm warning for the city of Toronto and surrounding areas early Saturday afternoon.

The warning for Toronto was lifted at 1:38 pm, just minutes after the short but intense storm rolled through the city.

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“The storm is well east of the GTA now,” said Liota in an interview with the Star just after 2 pm “It’s going to Northumberland Country into parts of cottage country now. It looks like the main severe risk for today for the Golden Horseshoe and GTA is pretty much done.”

Liota said it should be safe now to start venturing out to address some of the damage in the streets caused by the storm.

Ben Cohen is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @bcohenn

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Nation World News Desk
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