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06/21/2005 TALK: Canadian Prairies

Lethbridge AB. tornadoes

Just finished watching some incredible video shot by some locals around the Lethbridge area from last night from the Global Network out of Calgary...this rivaled some of the best stuff ever seen in KS. or OK. ... one large tornado, and another shot of a backlit vortex slithering across the prairie with either a strong gustnado or another weaker tornado a mile to its south...the grandest part was the spiraling mesocyclonic updraft that virtually came to ground level looking east with the sun shinning on it as it moved east from Lethbridge..sort of looked liked the cover of Tim Vasquez's Storm Chase handbook except looking at it from the other direction....absolutely amazing stuff...by the looks of the storms, the LCL's had to be unusually low...who else saw this??? ... Any of our Canadian friends who may have been on this storm...I would LOVE a copy of the video.

God, I hope for one more chase this season up north!

Somehow I knew they would say this, here is the Famous "Plough Wind", no photos of course but hopefully some storm chasers can prove the truth behind this mystery wind. I am convinced that it was a massively wide tornado, maybe 10 km wide but not the speed of even an F3, I have seen these things and they only seem to happen at night, very difficult to photograph:


I'm interested to know why you believe it was a tornado, but more specifically, why you believe it was 4-5 miles wide. That would be a record of inconceivable magnitude.
I'm interested to know why you believe it was a tornado, but more specifically, why you believe it was 4-5 miles wide. That would be a record of inconceivable magnitude.

I just wanted to see if anyone was paying attention. Seriously though, we have a lot to learn from different storms in different areas of the world. The "plough wind" just seems like a fairy tale to me. I would like to see exactly what one looks like if anything.

Here is a photo I took a couple years ago of an enormous cloud that I observed lowering completely to the ground (yes, the entire cloud) and producing baseball size hail to the north of it. This thing swept by me at about 100km/hr and it went from completely calm to dust and crap flying all over the place.


...so what was it? Radar inticated rotation as well. Granted this is a different storm but it goes without saying that we have not seen all types of tornadoes that are out there yet. It shouldn't be of much surprise if we find out that tornadoes are far wider further north on the plains. There is simply more area to form out here. This is a huge country and we do get huge tornadoes here. Don't forget we have had two recorded F5s here, no where else in Canada has come close to the size of our tornadoes.

I understand that it was likely straight line winds and therefore a deracho or microburst but I just hate that name "plough wind", it sounds so lame...

btw, my photos from that day:


Lethbridge tornado photo is here:


The photo looks like a standard striated supercell. As for it moving 100 km/hr, that seems a bit unlikely. From your description (and assuming you stayed put at the location from which the photo was taken), it sounds as if you might have been blasted by RFD.

As for a "plough wind", the description in the linked article sounds like typical straight-line winds, perhaps along the leading edge of a bow echo (or associated with a derecho). As for what it would look like, it wouldn't necessarily look like anything at all. After all, it's wind. Granted, there would probably be a nice shelf and wall of dust associated with it, but it's not like we're talking about a physical cloud feature or anything of the sort. It's a fairly common event, so I'm not sure why you'd label it a "fairy tale", much less attribute it to a massive tornado.