Manitoba reeling from tornadoes, heavy rains

Two tornadoes and heavy rains hit the southwestern corner of Manitoba Wednesday night, according to eyewitnesses and flood officials.

Manitoba was under tornado and flood watches on Thursday after a day of exceptionally heavy rain and eyewitness reports of two tornadoes touching down in the province's southwestern corner Wednesday night.

Heavy rains have been pummelling the same region of the province, giving some communities more rainfall in a single day than they usually see in half a year.

"This is very, very unusual," said provincial flood forecaster Alf Warkentin. "This kind of storm is going to be, according to our statistics, a 100-year event kind of thing."

A band of heavy rain stretching from the upper third of North Dakota to Manitoba's Riding Mountain National Park dropped between 150 and 175 millimetres of rain. Some isolated regions have reported receiving as much as 300 millimetres of rain.

The weather office in Melita reported 33 millimetres of rain in just one hour Wednesday. A trailer park in the community was flooded, as were many farmers' fields.

One section of Highway 83 in the southwest corner of Manitoba was washed out, as were several minor roads.

Two funnel clouds reported late Wednesday

As for the tornadoes, two reports of funnel clouds came in Wednesday night, the first at 5 p.m. from the Goodlands area, about 90 kilometres southwest of Brandon.

"The first thing I heard was just a roar," said Doris Wozny, who lives about 12 kilometres south of Goodlands. "I knew it wasn't normal wind – it just roared.

"I turned and looked out the window and my barbecue and table were flying by the window."

Wozny headed to her basement, but said she hadn't gotten down the stairs in the 20 to 30 seconds it took for the tornado to pass by.

She didn't see the funnel cloud herself, but she said her husband watched it touch down briefly from his location a few kilometres away.

"I went outside and it was really quiet. I looked around and noticed our chicken house and adjacent storage shed was just crumpled right up. It looked like part of it had been picked up where the chickens were and thrown down into the trees ... the trees are just smashed to pieces."

Wozny said the chickens survived the ordeal unscathed, and were walking around the yard as if nothing unusual had happened.

'It was likely a tornado': meteorologist

Environment Canada meteorologist Dave Carlson said the department has not yet officially confirmed a tornado hit the area, but added that all the evidence certainly points in that direction.

"Based on what we were looking at on radar and what people were describing to us, I think I can safely say it was likely a tornado," he said.

Another tornado was reported north of Rivers, which is 40 kilometres northwest of Brandon, at around 7 p.m. Wednesday. Meteorologists have not yet confirmed details of that case.