Environment Canada investigating possible tornado near Almonte

The weather agency says it's waiting on high-resolution satellite images to determine if a landspout tornado touched down near Almonte, Ont., Saturday afternoon.

Weather agency waiting on high-resolution satellite images to determine if tornado occurred

Environment Canada said it is investigating a report that a possible landspout tornado had occurred near Almonte, Ont., on Saturday afternoon. (Jason Warnock/Twitter)

Environment Canada says there's no doubt a funnel cloud was spotted just west of Ottawa Saturday afternoon, but they haven't determined whether it developed into a tornado.

The agency issued a weather advisory Saturday afternoon saying conditions are favourable for the clouds, which could — in rare instances — develop into landspout tornadoes.

The possible landspout tornado was reported around 3 p.m., near Almonte, Ont., the weather agency wrote.

Funnel clouds can form during weak thunderstorms or from rapidly growing clouds, the weather agency said. While they can appear quickly with almost no warning, they often aren't dangerous and rarely touch the ground.

A landspout tornado occurs when a funnel cloud intensifies, Environment Canada said.

While a funnel cloud was spotted in the area, whether it will be considered a tornado depends on whether it touched the ground, the agency said.

Environment Canada is asking people who see any damage, like a path of broken trees, to send photos via social media using the hashtag #ONStorm.

Ottawa isn't out of danger just yet: Environment Canada is tracking more cells that could bring further funnel clouds until around 9 or 10 p.m.

The agency said that anyone who spots a funnel cloud near them should be prepared to take shelter.

Previous tornadoes

The Ottawa-Gatineau area has already been in the path of multiple tornadoes in less than two years. 

A series of twisters tore through the region on Sept. 21, 2018, injuring six people in Ottawa and two people in Gatineau, Que., causing widespread damage to homes and businesses.

Another tornado touched down in Orléans in June 2019. One person suffered minor injuries.

Crawford Luke, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the clouds spotted over Almonte Saturday were less threatening than the storms that created those tornadoes. 

"What we had yesterday, we generally don't expect a lot of damage, or sometimes any damage, most of the time," he said on Sunday.

"It's not the same type of storm ... I think that's worth keeping in mind." 

The 2018 and 2019 tornadoes formed from thunderclouds referred to as supercells, Luke said.

"Generally, those are the most powerful storms we deal with anywhere in the world," he said. "Those are the storms that are responsible for really strong tornadoes, really big hail, really strong winds."

With files from Kimberley Molina and Joseph Tunney

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