Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger was in the Pipestone area on Monday morning to survey the damage after a likely tornado whipped through on the weekend.

A storm blew through the southwest Manitoba town Saturday night, flattening crops, snapping trees, and taking roofs off buildings.

The reeve of the Rural Municipality of Pipestone, Ross Tycoles, said the cleanup is ongoing and crews need volunteers, trailers and chainsaws to get the job done.

"We started moving trees yesterday and we're trying to get the town cleaned up, at least, so everything's out of the way," he said, adding "there's a lot of metal and roofs scattered around the communities."

Gavin Mackenzie was baling hay in his tractor on his farm six kilometres south of Pipestone when the storm hit.

He dug in his blades near a slough and rode it out inside his tractor cab, shooting a video of the howling winds and hail.

"It was a pretty helpless feeling because there was nowhere to go and nothing you could do and I just, at one point I thought it was going to let up and [thought] I was out of the woods. And then it fired back up," he said.

Mackenzie called the experience the longest 25 minutes of his life.

He said his farmhouse was fine, but his bins and sheds were torn apart.

'It looked very eerie'

Resident Deane Harrison, who hid with her family under the stairs in the basement, said the power of the storm filled the sky with flying debris.

"To look at the clouds in the sky, they seemed like they were moving quite slow. But yet it was very obvious how strong and scary that it was," Harrison said.


Kathy Swanson, left, looks at damage in the kitchen of her home, which had its roof torn off by the storm. (Alana Cole/CBC)

"It looked very eerie. You definitely knew to hide."

Harrison said her home sustained minor damage from the storm.

But some homes were destroyed: the roof of Kathy and Roger Swanson's house was torn off by the storm.

The Swansons said they had left for Brandon before the storm hit, and a neighbour later called them with news about the damage to their house.

"It's a terrible feeling. Yeah, just lost," Kathy Swanson said.

"Don't really know what to do or where to go from there. It's just, you're lost."

The couple is currently staying with friends in town, but they said they don't know what they will do with their home, which was not insured.

The Swansons said just three weeks earlier, they had to take shelter in the basement of their home when another storm hit their property.

According to the provincial government, municipal officials believe most of the losses should be insurable.

The rural municipality has not requested any additional assistance from the province at this time, said a government spokesperson.

Storm damage team went there

Environment Canada said it is highly likely a tornado touched down in the area, but it has not yet been classified as such.

A damage survey team went to the region on Monday to look at the damage and make an assessment. Officials said it could take some time before they know for sure what happened.

The team is looking at a number of factors, including the size of the area affected and the scale of the damage, said Environment Canada's Natalie Hasell, a warning preparedness meteorologist.

"Tornadoes get a lot of hype, but they're actually the event that happens almost the least often. Very specific conditions have to come together for a storm to produce a tornado," she told CBC News.

Hasell said we are in the centre of severe storm season right now in Manitoba.

"The season actually extends well into August and some years even into September, so it's certainly not over yet," she said.

Hasell said the damage survey team will use the information they gather in Pipestone to improve storm reporting and warnings.

She added that everyone should have a plan to ride out a severe storm, including where to find shelter and provisions to last at least 72 hours.

"The first thing to remember is that any thunderstorm, even the ones that are not considered severe, are dangerous. They represent a threat," Hasell said.