Tornado confirmed in New Brunswick
Environment Canada investigators still assessing weekend storm's strength
A storm that hit central New Brunswick on Saturday night was a tornado, Environment Canada officials have confirmed.
Investigators continued to sift through the rubble in the Grand Lake area on Monday, trying to determine its intensity on the Enhanced Fujita tornado damage scale.
Meanwhile, area residents are still cleaning up after the violent storm swept through at about 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, leaving a narrow path of destruction about 20 kilometres long between the communities of Jemseg and Codys.
Residents in Cambridge Narrows, Whites Cove and Juniper reported damage by the powerful winds, including uprooted trees, damaged buildings and displaced vehicles.
Despite the strength of the storm, no one was injured.
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Environment Canada investigators from Halifax headed to the communities, located about 40 kilometres east of Fredericton, on Monday to investigate whether it was in fact a tornado that caused so much damage.
Bob Robichaud, the warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, said they looked at the path of the storm as well as for signs of rotation where uprooted trees and debris fell to determine it was a tornado.
"Here in New Brunswick we might get one or two over the course of the summer, so they're not unheard of," said Robichaud.
Harold Jones said the storm destroyed three of his buildings and damaged several vehicles.
He said he doesn't know how long it is going to take to clean up, but he said it will be expensive to repair the damage.
"I haven't got a clue [what's next]," he said. "I know I'm going to be busy for a few days cleaning up."
The winds were so powerful that a dump truck in the area was blown the length of a football field.
'I'm lucky I'm standing'
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Ronald MacLean has been living in the Grand Lake area for 67 years and has never witnessed such a powerful storm before.
On Sunday morning, the impact of the storm was all too evident. Wood and twisted metal from MacLean's tractor shed were scattered across his farm, some debris up to 200 metres away.
A 150-year-old barn was also destroyed.
MacLean said the cleanup will take a long time.
"We might get some insurance, because we got it all insured," he said. "It hurt the outhouse some too, tore the shingles off that. And they can be repaired. I'm lucky I'm standing. It could have been a lot worse," he said, noting the family home was spared.
Patrick Bennett was also out surveying the storm's damage on Sunday.
He's going to be spending a lot of time cutting trees and branches that have been left scattered around his mother's property, including the ones that landed on top of her truck.
After looking at the damage inflicted by the storm, he said people in the area are lucky the scale of the damage was not worse.
"Just amazing nobody's house is really damaged," he said. "It was outsheds and buildings. Nobody was hurt, so that's the main thing."
'We watched the neighbour's garage go tumbling'
Bennett, who was visiting Cambridge Narrows from Nova Scotia on the weekend, said he was stunned by what he saw on Saturday night.
"I went to the back window and looked out, and you could see the funnel cloud actually starting to lift.… And we watched the neighbour's garage go tumbling across the neighbour's field," he said.
"It didn't touch the field. It was up in the air. So once we went outside and looked around and checked on the neighbours, they weren't home, but it was quite intense there for a few minutes."
There were several reports from citizens saying they saw a funnel cloud in the area, and Environment Canada had issued a tornado warning in the area on Saturday.
By Monday morning, the agency had already looked at videos of the storm, such as the one taken by Matt Rideout and Alex Hache. It showed a twister touching down on Washademoak Lake.
The video has been widely circulated on social media since it was posted.
Meteorologist Bob Robichaud told CBC News before the official confirmation that it was "pretty clear" it was a tornado, based on the video.
"The video that we got from the storm was one of the best videos of tornado that I have seen anywhere in Maritimes," he said later on Monday.