Funnel clouds spotted as wild weather whips through southern Manitoba

Reports of funnel clouds, baseball-sized hail and heavy rainfall spread across southern Manitoba Thursday night as thunderstorms made their way from west to east.

Lightning delays Bomber game twice in first half, tornado warnings briefly issued for southwest

A couple sits in the rain as a lightning delay stopped play between the Edmonton Eskimos and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the first half of CFL action in Winnipeg Thursday, June 14, 2018. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Reports of funnel clouds, baseball-sized hail and heavy rainfall spread across southern Manitoba Thursday night as thunderstorms made their way from west to east.

Tornado warnings were briefly in effect for the southwest corner of Manitoba, as Environment Canada said spotters saw brief funnel clouds accompanying severe thunderstorms.

In Winnipeg, play was delayed twice in the CFL's season opener between the Blue Bombers and Edmonton Eskimos, due to lightning around Investors Group Field. 

Investors Group Field sits virtually empty during the second of two lightning delays Thursday night. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

Manitoba Hydro reported approximately 9,700 customers were without power in Winnipeg Thursday night. Power was knocked out to an additional 1,900 customers in Killarney.

The entire southwest corner of Manitoba had been under threat due to potentially damaging thunderstorms and possible tornadoes. That threat gradually shifted east through the evening.

Environment Canada has issued extreme weather warnings and watches for the province's southern areas. 

Severe thunderstorm warnings are in effect (as of 11:10 p.m.) for: 

  • Morden - Winkler - Altona - Morris
  • Bissett - Victoria Beach - Nopoming Provincial Park - Pine Falls​
  • Steinbach - St. Adolphe - Emerson - Vita - Richer
  • Whiteshell - Lac du Bonnet - Pinawa

Severe thunderstorm watches are in effect (as of 11:10 p.m.) for: 

  • Morden - Winkler - Altona - Morris
  • Bissett - Victoria Beach - Nopoming Provincial Park - Pine Falls
  • Brandon - Neepawa - Carberry - Treherne
  • Dugald - Beausejour - Grand Beach
  • City of Winnipeg
  • ​Killarney - Pilot Mound - Manitou
  • Selkirk - Gimli - Stonewall - Woodlands
  • Ste. Rose - McCreary - Alonsa - Gladstone
  • Steinbach - St. Adolphe - Emerson - Vita - Richer
  • ​Portage la Prairie - Headingley - Brunkild - Carman
  • ​Sprague - Northwest Angle Provincial Forest
  • Whiteshell - Lac du Bonnet - Pinawa
The weather map of southwestern Manitoba shows thunderstorms, lightning strikes and a pair of tornado warnings, as of 8:15 p.m. Thursday. The warnings were later lifted. (CBC)

Meteorologists had been tracking very strong wind gusts and nickel to baseball-sized hail. 

​With a warm front edging up into Manitoba from Saskatchewan, the strongest threats were in southwestern Manitoba. Moisture, instability and strong winds could pick up, CBC meteorologist John Sauder said.

The forecast called for "damaging winds" and "torrential downpours."

Sauder said to be aware of the potential for wind gusts over 100 km/h and hail about 3-5 centimetres in diameter. Heavy rainfall and rotating winds could also pose a danger.

"This is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation," Environment Canada says. 

Overnight, the storms will move into the Red River Valley, with the potential for weaker wind gusts and smaller hail.

Look out

Environment Canada urges Manitobans to stay alert.

"Be prepared for severe weather. Take cover immediately if threatening weather approaches."

Sauder advises anyone caught in major wind storms or in the vicinity of blackening skies to keep watch for tornadoes. If Environment Canada issues a tornado warning, seek shelter in the lowest place, stay away from outside walls and windows and protect your head.

With files from Dana Hatherly