Tornado or plow wind? Storm officials study Pipestone data

Storm surveyors are going over radar records to determine whether a tornado did in fact strike Pipestone, Man., this past weekend.
Pipestone-area resident Ryan Kraning shot this footage of cloud formations before and during the storm that struck southwestern Manitoba. 0:24

Storm surveyors are going over radar records to determine whether a tornado did in fact strike Pipestone, Man., this past weekend.

The storm that blew through the southwest Manitoba town Saturday night flattened crops, snapped trees, and took roofs off buildings.

Pat McCarthy, head of Environment Canada's Prairie and Arctic Storm Prediction Centre, said the winds were estimated to be 100-170 km/h.

But what isn't clear is whether they rotated like a tornado or were straight down plow winds — extremely powerful downward air currents that can cause similar damage to a tornado.

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"When we did our survey we saw a lot of this damage, almost all the damage was from the northwest to the southeast so it made it look like this … downdraft had definitely occurred. But they [also] occur very close to a tornado if there is one," said McCarthy.

"We haven't seen anything that conclusively says something one way or the other, but the problem is that these high-precipitation [storms] are so full of rain that you in all likelihood aren't going to see the funnel cloud."

McCarthy is asking people to send their pictures and video of the storm to Environment Canada.

People are cleaning up after severe damage to dozens of homes and buildings.