Manitoba

Man dead following tornado near Alonsa, Man.

A man has died after a tornado touched down in the Alonsa, Man., area on Friday night, RCMP confirmed.

Family confirms Jack Furrie, 77, died when a tornado touched down Friday night

David Mozdzen snapped this photo of the tornado from a field as it touched down Friday night, tearing through homes in the Alonsa, Man., area, east of Riding Mountain National Park. (Submitted by David Mozdzen)

A man has died after a tornado touched down in the Alonsa, Man., area on Friday night, RCMP confirmed Saturday.

The 77-year-old man was found dead outside his destroyed residence, an RCMP spokesperson said.

Environment Canada confirmed that a tornado touched down near the Alonsa community, 165 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, and east of Riding Mountain National Park, at about 9 p.m. CT on Friday. 

Family members have confirmed to CBC News the man who died is Jack Furrie.

The reeve of the Rural Municipality of Alonsa said the victim was a retired farmer and schoolteacher.

The man lived alone, Stan Asham said, but frequently entertained guests on weekends.

"He was a personal family friend for years of my whole family," Asham said.

"Fifty-one years ago, July 29, he stood up for me in my wedding party."

The tornado may have been on the ground for up to 45 minutes, said Environment Canada meteorologist Mike Russo. But reports of how long the storm was on the ground are still unconfirmed, he said.

A team of three people headed to the area Saturday morning to survey the damage and gather details on what exactly occurred, he said. 

Vanessa Lambourne Whyte took these photos of the damage caused by the tornado at Margaret Bruce Beach near Silver Ridge, Man., just east of Alonsa. (Submitted by Vanessa Lambourne Whyte)

The team won't be able to confirm how intense the storm was until members arrive and start gathering details, he said.

Many photos and videos of the storm circulated on social media, including this video of a funnel cloud shot by David Mozdzen and posted by his son, Bryan.

In addition to receiving preliminary reports of how long the tornado was on the ground, Environment Canada has also received numerous reports of golf-ball sized hail hitting the area, and that at least one home was "totally damaged," he said. 

Damage 'unbelievable', official says 

Pam Sul, Alonsa's chief administrative officer, said her community is just beginning to understand the damage caused by last night's tornado.

The worst of the damage appears to be centred just east of Alonsa at Margaret Bruce Provincial Park, which sits on the west side of Lake Manitoba.

Community members are beginning to clean up from the tornado, which scattered debris and levelled some homes. (Erin Brohman/CBC)

She said she's spoken with one resident whose barn was totally destroyed, as well as several hay bales. 

"The debris in the lake is unbelievable," she said, 

Debris scattered across a field in the Alonsa area, the work of a tornado that touched down in the community Friday night. (Erin Brohman/CBC )

"It's not that good to look at." 

At a private beach just north of the park, two cabins were also destroyed during the storm and a number of trailers and campers were toppled as well. 

On Friday, Asham said a large family gathering was being held at one of the cabins, and those there were forced to flee to a nearby relative's home as the tornado approached.

A trailer lies on its side at Margaret Bruce Beach by Silver Ridge, Man., east of Alonsa, after a tornado touched down in the area Friday night. (Submitted by Vanessa Lambourne Whyte)

"They saw it coming and had some 200 yards to their brother-in-law's house, and they all got in to the basement there and none of them were hurt," he said.

On Saturday morning, Sul said power was still out in the whole community because of downed power lines.

In a tweet Saturday afternoon, Manitoba Hydro said it expects to have power restored in the area by midnight Saturday.

Environment Canada had issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the area on Friday morning, and upgraded it to a severe thunderstorm warning shortly before 8 p.m. About 20 minutes later, a tornado warning was issued.

A man has died after a tornado touched down in the Alonsa, Man., area on Friday night, RCMP confirmed. 0:46

Asham said he never received a warning on his phone. He said there were warnings on TV but wireless service in the area has been spotty or non-existent since the end of May, which he said remains unresolved, despite promises by service providers.

"We count on cell service for our emergency services, so this thing is pretty devastating right in the middle of no phone service," Asham said.

"The only reason now I'm talking to you on my cell now is I'm on a good spot and I'm south of the bad area."

With files from Laura Glowacki and The Canadian Press