Tornado confirmed in Orléans

It's official: a tornado touched down in Orléans early Sunday evening, according to Environment Canada.

Cleanup efforts continue after Sunday evening storm tracked from Gatineau, Que., across the river into Ottawa

Dominik Lesniewski and Catherine O'Sullivan look at their home from across the street as roofers put tarps over damage to their roof caused by a tornado in the Ottawa suburb of Orléans on Sunday, June 2, 2019. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

It's official: a tornado touched down in Orléans early Sunday evening, according to Environment Canada.

Peter Kimball, a warning preparedness specialist with the weather agency, said Monday that he lives in Orléans and saw the funnel cloud himself near Place d'Orléans. It was about 6 p.m.

"No question about it, it was a tornado in Orléans," he told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.

The tornado developed about 10 kilometres southeast of the Gatineau airport, at 5:54 p.m. It moved along the Ottawa River and eventually hit Orléans.

While the tornado was already tracking through the area, Environment Canada issued a tornado warning in Gatineau, Que., Papineau, Que., and Prescott-Russell, Ont., starting at 6 p.m.

A tornado warning was not issued in Ottawa.

Based on preliminary evidence, the strength of the tornado was a "low end EF-1 suggesting peak winds of 135 km/h," according to Environment Canada's initial summary of the event.

One person was treated for minor injuries, according to the City of Ottawa.

Winds that peaked at 135 km/h near the Gatineau airport ripped up roofs and trees Sunday evening. 1:09

Kimball was surprised a tornado developed on Sunday, but said the "ingredients were there." It wasn't hot in the late afternoon but it was pleasantly warm, and there had been showers ahead of an approaching cold front.

Sunday started out quite cool in Ottawa, hovering between 12 and 13 C until 1 p.m., but then quickly warmed up to the day's high of 21 C by 6 p.m.

A shed from an adjacent home sits on top of a car after being thrown by winds during the tornado in Orléans. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

'Very unique'

"Tornadoes require really specific conditions, and I think this one was a very unique one. We'll have to be spending some time looking into the meteorology of the event in the days to come," Kimball said, adding that Environment Canada teams in Montreal and London, Ont., are analyzing the storm.

After seeing the tornado, Kimball went home, changed his clothes and started working. He toured some damaged areas, including along Jeanne d'Arc Boulevard and near Highway 174.

Meanwhile, Orléans Coun. Matthew Luloff found out about the tornado on social media and didn't get an emergency alert on his phone. Others in the region did.

People look at a home's roof which was damaged by the tornado. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

He was out in the ward surveying damage until just before 1 a.m. Monday.

"I would say there are probably 20 to 25 streets that are heavily affected ... it's mostly concentrated in the Villages area of my ward, from Champlain Street to the east, all the way to just past Trim Road," he told Ottawa Morning.

Many tall trees were felled, some landing on homes and vehicles and wires. Roofs were damaged.

"It looks like the roads are clear, but there's still quite a bit of debris on people's properties."

A woman takes photos of damage to a home and trees. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

'More and more frequent'

Luloff said he takes the city's recently declared climate emergency "very seriously," and that more needs to be done.

"These events are becoming more and more frequent. And when you see tornadoes two years in a row and once in 100-year floods in 2017 and then in 2019, we really need to be taking a hard look at what we can do to shore up our critical infrastructure to keep people safe, and at the same time make sure that we're not continuing to contribute to violent climate events like this," he said.

A man helps clear debris from fallen tree branches from a road. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

He's also asking residents to keep an eye on their mental health in the coming days.

"Events like this can really affect people and can stir up emotions. This really touches to the heart of people feeling safe in their own home," he said.

"I think it's really important to take care of our mental health in situations like these."


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