Tornado sent 'trees flying all over' Manitoba farmer's property

People in southwestern Manitoba are cleaning up from last night's tornado, which left a path of destruction through local farms while downing hydro poles and almost lifting a storm chaser's truck off the ground.

'I've never seen anything like it before,' says Fred Raynor, who saw tornado rip through his yard

People in southwestern Manitoba are cleaning up from last night's tornado, which left a path of destruction through local farms while downing hydro poles and almost lifting a storm chaser's truck off the ground. 1:54

People in southwestern Manitoba are cleaning up from last night's tornado, which left a path of destruction through local farms while downing hydro poles and almost lifting a storm chaser's truck off the ground.

Environment Canada says the tornado was first reported south of Tilston, Man., and moving north at 8:28 p.m. CT Monday, about half an hour after tornado warnings were issued for the area.

It was then reported near Reston, Man., at 9:55 p.m. and northeast of Virden, Man., at 10:55 p.m.

Environment Canada calls it a "rare" event, as radar imagery shows the same tornado stayed on the ground for 2½ to three hours. In Canada, tornadoes rarely stay on the ground longer than a few minutes.

Cleanup efforts are underway July 28 at Fred Raynor's home and farm in the Rural Municipality of Two Borders. The property was damaged by a tornado the previous evening. (Angela Johnston/CBC)
The tornado ripped through Fred Raynor's farm property between Tilston and Reston, Man.

"Trees flying all over, some going one way, some going the other way," said Raynor, who watched from his living room as his family hid in the basement.

"I've never seen anything like it before."

Raynor said all he heard were banging sounds as the trees landed on his roof.

One of his grandchildren, 12-year-old Noah Jacobson, said the storm was one of the scariest things he has ever experienced.

"And [it] just started picking up — you could see clouds twisting, it was crazy, and then trees were falling. I thought it was going to pick the house up," he said.

"We were sitting downstairs, we were sitting on the stairs, so I thought the house was gone."

Bins, shed, coop destroyed

While Raynor said he and his family are relieved they're OK and their house and barn are still standing, the strong winds destroyed some of their bins, another barn, a cattle shed and chicken coop.

Trees are uprooted near Tilston, Man., following a thunderstorm and tornado that that struck the area Monday night. (Angela Johnston/CBC)
He added that his cows and horses survived the disaster, but about 200 of his wife's chickens were lost.

"She had 400 chickens in it. The [sons-in-law] and daughters gathered chickens here last night until midnight, and they found about half of them," he said.

Raynor said he called all of his neighbours after the tornado passed. None of them were hurt, but many experienced property damage, he said.

"Neighbours are good. That's the main thing. Everybody got out without anyone getting hurt," he said.

"They were all here first thing this morning … here to help."

Teen recalls tornado almost lifting truck

Another person who witnessed the tornado first-hand was 15-year-old Dakota Radcliffe of Hartney, Man., He and his older brother were in a pickup truck that was almost lifted off the ground about eight kilometres west of Reston, Man.

"Me and my brother had to put ourselves in the ditch with the truck to get lower so we didn't get scooped up or flipped over. We nearly did," he said.

Dakota Radcliffe, left, and his father Robert saw Monday night's tornado. Dakota said his truck was almost lifted off the ground. (Karen Pauls/CBC)
"The wind, it was blowing everywhere, and you could see it if you looked at the front of the truck, it was swirling around on top of it and it lifted the back end up for a few seconds there. But the whole thing actually only lasted about eight minutes, I'd say."

His father, amateur storm chaser Rob Radcliffe, said he was in another vehicle and encountered rain, hail, lightning. He also saw several funnel clouds but turned around at one point.

The elder Radcliffe said it was "heart-wrenching" to hear about what happened to his sons, but he's happy no one was hurt.

"It was very intense and emotional for me. God pulled us through that. It was a blessing they weren't hurt. We are very grateful for that," he said.

"There was some lessons learned on how to approach these storms in the future and hopefully he picked up on some of those … [it] gets really dangerous when you're chasing these things. Sometimes you just need to turn tail and get out because it is too dangerous."

Winnipeg men recall close call with "intense" tornado. 1:04

Storm damaged bridge

Environment Canada's damage survey team will be in southwest Manitoba to see the impact and rank the tornado.

Damage from the twister and accompanying thunderstorm closed a bridge on Highway 256 west of Melita from Monday night until Tuesday afternoon, when the road reopened to traffic.

The CBC's Angela Johnston says it looks like the asphalt has crumbled off the top of the bridge.

This bridge on Highway 256 west of Melita, Man., was closed earlier on Tuesday, after it was damaged by a tornado and thunderstorm in the area the night before. (Angela Johnston/CBC)
Johnston saw a large group of people clearing broken trees and twisted pieces of metal from another rural home near Tilston, but the family that owns the property said it was too difficult for them to talk about what happened.

Meanwhile, Manitoba Hydro has been dealing with power outages, caused by the storms, throughout the southwest and in the Parkland region on Tuesday.

The wind snapped some hydro poles, dropping power lines to the ground. Hydro estimates that 45 poles are damaged or missing due to the storms.

Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Scott Powell said crews have to bring in specialized equipment to install new poles in very wet ditches.

"In the Melita area there is a stretch of about 1.5 to 2 miles of V-line (distribution line) to 16 customers where all that is left is two poles," Powell said in an email.

"The rest of the infrastructure is simply gone, poles and wires. Rebuilding this section of line will take us all day and into the evening hours."

Powell said Manitoba Hydro has brought in extra staff to help restore power throughout the affected areas.


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