Ontario overdue for killer tornado article

I thought this was an interesting article I saw in the paper today. How fitting, since this has been our quietest storm season in 27 years.

Source: The Kitchener Waterloo Record, May 30, 2005

We're long overdue for killer tornado, 20 years after Barrie

TORONTO (May 30, 2005)

It arrived encircled in a shroud of torrential rain so severe that nobody caught sight of its devastating presence until it was too late.

When the high winds, hail and continuous thunder and lightning subsided, 11 were dead and 155 were injured as large swaths of Barrie, Ont., and surrounding areas lay in ruin.

\"Nobody, that we're aware of, actually saw the tornadoes on that day,'' Environment Canada meteorologist Geoff Coulson said of the storm that tore through Barrie, Ont., on May 31, 1985.

\"The rain, instead of just staying well out ahead of the thunderstorm, was actually wrapped right around the tornado itself, making it basically (impossible) for anyone to distinguish it from a heavy rain.''

Twenty years later, scientists and storm watchers are sure of two things:

Advances in weather tracking and improved emergency management strategies leave Canadians much better prepared for the next killer tornado.

The next killer tornado -- especially for Ontario -- is long overdue.

\"Our return period for a storm of that intensity is about 15 years in Ontario,'' said Coulson.

Roughly 80 of these destructive storms touch down each year in Canada's tornado alleys -- southern Ontario, the prairies and southeastern Quebec.

What's rare is the magnitude of the tornado that wreaked havoc on southern Ontario in 1985 -- on the Fujita scale of zero to five, it measured a four.

\"This was a real big super cell thunderstorm, probably twice the height of Mount Everest, that produced the tornado,'' said George Kourounis, a Toronto-based storm chaser.

\"Our house was totally levelled. A piano and a toilet survived, that's it,'' recalled Joan McDonald, who said homes across the street were unscathed.

The left her daughters buried under four metres of rubble -- yet they survived largely unscathed.

\"We had scratches, and there was nothing left of our house. It was truly amazing,'' she said.

The family never recovered its silverware, yet a puppy that was blown away was found one week later.

\"She must have gone up and came down, because we found her 12 miles away.''


Regina - June 30, 1912 - 28 dead, hundreds injured

Edmonton - July 31, 1987 - 27 dead, hundreds injured

Windsor, Ont. - June 17, 1946 - 17 dead, hundreds injured

Pine Lake, Alta. - July 14, 2000 - 12 dead, 140 injured

Valleyfield, Que. - Aug. 16, 1888 - nine dead, 14 injured

Windsor, Ont. - April 3, 1974 - nine dead, 30 injured

Barrie, Ont. (and surrounding areas) - May 31, 1985 - 11 dead, 155 injured

Sudbury - Aug. 20, 1970 - six dead, 200 injured

St-Rose, Que. - June 14, 1892 - six dead, 26 injured

Bouctouche, N.B. - Aug. 6, 1879 - five dead, 10 injured