Houses, cabins destroyed in tornado near Alonsa, Man.

One man is dead after a tornado touched down near the small Manitoba community of Alonsa Friday night, destroying a handful of homes and cabins in the area.

Official estimates tornado tore a kilometres-long path through Alonsa, Man.

Storm chaser Scott Kehler says he found this home, just east of Alonsa, destroyed after the storm. Environment Canada has confirmed a tornado touched down in the area Friday night. (Submitted/Scott Kehler)

One man is dead after a tornado touched down near the small Manitoba community of Alonsa Friday night, destroying a handful of homes and cabins in the area.

There were initially no reports of injuries, but RCMP confirmed Saturday morning a 77-year-old man was found dead outside his residence, which was destroyed.

Environment Canada has confirmed the tornado, telling CBC News reports started coming in from around Alonsa, roughly 165 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, shortly before 9 p.m. CT Friday.

Severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings had been issued for the area around that time.

Annie Richard lives about six kilometres from where she says the tornado touched down near the corner of Highway 50 and Highway 278 and caught video of the large funnel-shaped cloud.

"It just all of a sudden came out of nowhere," she said. "It all of a sudden got extra humid. It was really hot today, and then dark clouds came shortly after that and then this happened.

"It was unbelievable, I don't ever want to see it again."

Homes, cabins destroyed

Stan Asham, reeve of the rural municipality, said Friday night the damage was centred just east of Alonsa at Margaret Bruce Provincial Park, which sits on the west side of Lake Manitoba.

He says trees and power lines were knocked down and at least one home near the lake was demolished.

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, said the reeve.

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

"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.

Environment Canada said there were also reports of hail during the storm, with pieces ranging in size from nickel-sized to as large as hen egg-sized.

Pam Sul, chief administrative officer in Alonsa, was out assessing the damage late Friday and said the community will have a big mess to clean up Saturday.

She estimates the tornado left a roughly six-and-a-half-kilometre swath of destruction on its path west toward the park.

"You could see the broken trees and everything, it was quite bad," she said.

"It was a few miles of destruction."

'Quite a night'

She said an abandoned home just east of Alonsa was also levelled by the tornado, and she had heard reports of camping trailers being blown into the lake at the park during the storm.

"Until I can see it tomorrow in the daylight it's really hard to assess but you can see the debris washing up on the shore already," she said.

"It was quite a night."

Scott Kehler is a meteorologist based in Winnipeg who was storm chasing in the area when the tornado hit.

He was driving south on Highway 50 shortly after the tornado came through and came across one of the destroyed homes.

He said it was an eerie experience.

"It was a little bit scary because when I first came across the house that was destroyed I wasn't sure if there was anybody there or not — luckily there wasn't," he said.

Along the highway, Kehler said he saw a number of downed power lines, trees that were "cut in half" and lots of debris scattered about.

He also saw a number of emergency vehicles rushing north toward Alonsa.

"I've never actually come across tornado damage that was just fresh like that," he said.

"It was a little bit frightening to see what had happened."

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With files from Riley Laychuk