'Widespread damage' and power outages as storm rips over Lake Huron toward London

Saugeen Shores has seen "widespread damage" to trees and power lines, as a storm made its way over Lake Huron late Tuesday afternoon, say local police. The system — which could produce a tornado — is expected to move into the London area later this evening, warns Environment Canada. 

Storm chasers said farm vehicles were flipped over and multiple people were without power

A water spout, captured from the beach in Port Albert, Ont., as a system makes its way over Lake Huron. (Bruno Herlin/Twitter)

Saugeen Shores, Ont., has seen "widespread damage" to trees and power lines, as a storm made its way over Lake Huron late Tuesday afternoon.

Local police Insp. Jeremy Mighton said first responders were working to reach people as quickly as possible, but said in the meantime, police are asking people to stay inside their homes and vehicles.

Westario Power Inc. said customers in Port Elgin, Southampton, Walkerton and the Village of Neustadt were without power Tuesday evening. It said while crews have been sent to investigate, it was unable to say when power would be restored. 

The system — which Environment Canada warned early Tuesday could produce a tornado — had moved past communities bordering Lake Huron, with a severe thunderstorm warning in effect for all of Middlesex County. 

This property saw heavy damage in Tuesday's storm, which clocked strong winds and toppled trees. (Will Derry via Dave Shorey/Twitter)

Meanwhile, thunderstorm warnings for Perth and Huron counties were also re-issued, as the storm hit that region a second time.  

Most of its damage Tuesday evening was north of Goderich, said southwestern Ontario stormchaser Alex Masse. 

"There are many, many trees down, a lot of structural damage to structures that were in the path itself," said Masse. "It looks like it hit a farm, on [Highway] 21 ... did tremendous damage to it — moved farm vehicles."

Farm equipment was tossed and buildings destroyed on this property north of Port Albert, Ont. (Alex Masse/Twitter)

From that point, eastwards, Masse said, roads were blocked by fire trucks and police vehicles, as emergency responders checked on people living in the area. 

Storm watcher Anton Falco said he witnessed heavy showers, hail and strong winds north of Lucknow, Ont. 

"If I had to estimate, because I don't have an actual full measurement, it was probably pushing 100 km/h winds just screaming off the field, smack in the car. So it was it was something else," Falco said.  

Damage survey will inform tornado investigation

Driving into Lucknow, Falco said he saw fallen trees on residential driveways and two fallen power lines. 

Both men said that based on what they saw on the radar it's possible a tornado formed in the area.

"They're going to run the damage surveys tomorrow," said Falco. 

Environment Canada has not confirmed a tornado touched down; that typically takes a few days. 

The weather authority said the system may produce very strong wind gusts, "nickel to ping pong ball sized hail" and heavy rain. 

"The strongest of these thunderstorms will be capable of producing strong wind gusts up to 110 km/h, large hail up to 2 centimetres in diameter and locally heavy rainfall," a statement from Environment Canada said.

The release warned residents to take cover immediately if threatening weather approaches. 

"Large hail can damage property and cause injury. Strong wind gusts can toss loose objects, damage weak buildings, break branches off trees and overturn large vehicles. Heavy downpours can cause flash floods and water pooling on roads," the release said.

"Lightning kills and injures Canadians every year. Remember, when thunder roars, go indoors!" 

This photo, taken just after 6:00 p.m., shows the storm system moving over a neighbourhood in Goderich, Ont. (Pat Robertson/Twitter)

With files from Isha Bhargava and Angela McInnes


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