Storm chaser captures tornado touchdown in southwestern Ontario

Scott Sutherland

A tornado touched down briefly on Saturday evening, in the area of Mount Forest and Arthur, in southwestern Ontario, and storm chaser Dave Patrick (@wwxchaser) was there to capture the event.

He tweeted three incredible pictures of what he was witnessing:

Just as the third message came out of his Twitter feed, at 8:15 p.m. ET, Environment Canada issued a Tornado Warning for Mount Forest, Arthur and northern Wellington County, stating: "meteorologists are tracking a dangerous thunderstorm that is capable of producing a tornado."

"Storm spotters have reported a funnel cloud near Mount Forest and is moving east," the warning continued. They warned that this was a "a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation," and advised anyone who witnessed threatening weather approaching to take cover immediately.

Dedicated to keeping the storm in his sights, as he reported that it was generating a second funnel cloud, Patrick followed it as it headed east-northeast from the Arthur area. However, shortly thereafter, the storm quickly dissipated and was no longer considered a threat.

[ More Geekquinox: Tornado or downburst, what’s the difference? ]

Environment Canada confirmed on Monday that it was an EF0 tornado, on the Enhanced Fujita Scale of tornado strength, with wind speeds of between 90 and 130 km/h. Although this is the weakest level of tornado, it is still strong enough to snap trees, damage buildings and severely injure or even kill anyone caught in its path.

This twister was spotted just one day after an EF3 tornado claimed the lives of Tim Samaras, his son Paul, and their colleague from the Discovery Channel show "Storm Chasers", Carl Young. Although the exact circumstances of their their deaths isn't known, they were reportedly chasing the tornado near El Reno, Oklahoma, at the time.

Although some question the wisdom of chasing storms like this, with the difficulty in forecasting tornadoes, storm chasers like Samaras and his team, and like Dave Patrick here in Ontario, as well as the severe weather spotters who take part in the CANWARN system, are an incredibly valuable resource for keeping people safe.

Going unrecognized, for the most part, we owe these people a great debt of gratitude.

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