It wasn’t a tornado that ripped through the community on Friday evening, but a severe thunderstorm caused significant damage to crops and many properties across Mitchell’s Bay, Port Lambton and rural Chatham-Kent.
Yoseph Mengesha, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, told the Sydenham Current they have received no reports of tornadoes following the storm, but winds ranging from 80 km/h to 100 km/h caused damage across the region.
“Yesterday around 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. a severe thunderstorm swept across Southern Ontario,” he said.
“It came from Southern Michigan and moved into the Windsor-Essex, Chatham area. It was quite the intense storm, the radar was quote intense. There wasn’t any reports of a tornado, but there were reports of quarter-inch hail, some uprooted trees and some power outages from Hydro One. In terms of touch down, we haven’t gotten any reports.”
Mengesha said the storm was anticipated by Environment Canada, as they issued a severe thunderstorm watch about seven hours before the storm hit.
A warning was issued in the late afternoon, early evening.
“If we ever get information about a tornado touching down we send out a survey team to investigate whether damage is from a tornado or a downburst,” he said.
“For this one, we didn’t get reports of widespread uprooted big trees. At this point in time, we’re not sending any survey investigation team, unless we get further information.”
Mark Robinson, a meteorologist with The Weather Network, said some funnels were spotted in the “dangerous storm” as he watched it from the Chatham area on Friday evening.
— Mark Robinson (@StormhunterTWN) 7 July 2017
Crops severely damaged
While it is still too early to determine the full impact, North Kent Coun. Leon Leclair said crops in rural Chatham-Kent took a big hit in the storm.
“There are some crops that are totally destroyed just outside of Mitchell’s Bay,” Leclair said Saturday morning.
“Just driving on Winterline Road, I saw thousands of acres of damage. My expectations are zero now for this year. It’s going to be very frustrating.”
Leclair, who is also a farmer in Dover, said he could be $150,000 to $200,000 out of pocket now this year.
“Crop insurance all works on averages, it doesn’t pay you on a per field basis,” he said.
“It just lumps them all together. Not all farmers have all their acres in one basket. When they get a zero in one field.. your average is still your average. You’re not going to get much of a pay out. Some guys are going to be worse, some guys are going to be better.”
Sideways wind, shaking house
Leclair said he was in his home when the storm hit.
“The wind came down sideways,” he said.
“The house was shaking and then the hail. On my road there is a marker on the corner, it was pulled out of the ground and was laying on the road. That’s a four-by-four and it had the strength to lift it out of the ground.”
Leclair said there was considerable damage in Grande Pointe.
“I’ve got a buddy who has a big yard and he was picking up glass out of his yard and the other neighbours were picking up glass… where did that come from? Nobody has broken windows in Grande Pointe,” he said.
“The glass was pulled from somewhere. Another neighbour, he had half of his roof, the shingles ripped off just before the rain. So when the rain came, it went through his whole house.”
Dover Transfer Station without power
Leclair said the transfer station in Dover has no hydro following the storm.
He said, as of Saturday morning, the station could not accept any branches or garbage.
Leclair said he is directing people to Wallaceburg or Chatham Township.
The Wallaceburg Transfer Station will be open until 4 p.m. in order for residents with damaged trees to have more time to clean up.
Here is some more of our coverage from the Friday night storm:
– Photo credit: Peter Hensel