Quebec tornadoes cause millions in damage

Environment Canada confirms that two tornadoes — one of which was classed as a moderate F-1 packing winds of up to 150 km/h — touched down near Montreal Friday night, causing millions of dollars in damage.

2 twisters touch down northwest of Montreal

Environment Canada has confirmed that two tornadoes — one of which was classed as a moderate F-1 packing winds of up to 150 km/h — touched down near Montreal Friday night, causing millions of dollars in damage.

Meteorologist René Héroux from Environment Canada said the F-1 tore through St-Benoît-de-Mirabel. 

The two twisters landed within 15 minutes of each other and about 35 kilometres apart, smashing windows, ripping trees from their roots and destroying rooftops in several communities near Montreal.

The damage on Friday was mostly confined to a rural area, Héroux said, adding that there were no injuries.

Environment Canada said the first of the tornadoes to strike was a lighter F-0 twister, which brought gusts of up to 120 km/h and laid waste to parts of Brownsburg Chatham around 8 p.m. About 10 farming areas were hardest hit.

The Fujita scale runs from F-0 to F-5. The scale rates the severity of tornadoes by the damage they cause.

200-year-old brick church levelled

On Friday, up to seven homes in St-Benoît-de-Mirabel felt the brunt of the stronger of the two tornadoes.

The 200-year-old Grand Fresniere Presbyterian church collapsed in the storm, while pieces of metal from a farm’s silo were ripped off and dropped half a kilometre away.

The high winds toppled hydro poles, leaving many residents without power.

At the height of the storm, 30,000 Hydro-Québec customers were without power. Thirty-four crews were out throughout the night and, by 7 a.m. ET, power had been restored to all but 2,000 homes and businesses.

By noon, that number had been reduced to around 700.  Marie-Noël Lacroix of Hydro Quebec said they expected all power to be restored by the end of the day.

Mirabel Mayor Hubert Meilleur told Radio-Canada the damage could reach several millions of dollars. If the areas are designated disaster zones, he said he would consider asking the province for funding help.

Both tornadoes were Quebec's first of the season. The province typically sees about six twisters a year, usually between June and August, and rarely ever more severe than an F-1.

Tornado classifications

Intensity Wind speed Type of damage
F0 64-116 km/h Damage to trees, shingles, antennas and windows.
F1 117-180 km/h Trees uprooted, cars overturned.
F2 181-252 Roofs blown off homes, sheds destroyed, mobile homes flipped
F3 253-330 km/h Walls, roofs destroyed, metal buildings collapsed, forests destroyed.
F4 331-417 km/h Well-built homes mostly destroyed, heavy objects thrown long distances.
F5 418-508 km/h Homes destroyed and/or blown great distances, roofs blown off larger structures, which are otherwise heavily damaged.

With files from The Canadian Press