Tornado spotted in Ottawa during fierce storm

Gatineau residents are cleaning up washed-out streets and pumping out flooded basements, following a fierce thunderstorm that spawned a tornado over west Ottawa.

Neighbourhoods in Gatineau, Que., flooded after heavy rain

Ryan Carey submitted this photo of a funnel cloud as seen from his 11th-floor apartment at Greenbank and Baseline. 0:33

Gatineau, Que., residents are cleaning up washed-out streets and pumping out dozens of flooded basements on Friday, following a fierce thunderstorm that spawned a tornado over west Ottawa.

Environment Canada confirmed Friday that a large funnel cloud over Ottawa on Thursday night was, in fact, a class F0 tornado. The tornado, which registers as a 'gale tornado' on the Fujita scale with wind speeds of up to 116 km/h, did not touch down or cause any damage.

It was the second tornado recorded in Ontario this season, and developed south of Kanata before moving over Ottawa and then across the Ottawa River to the Aylmer section of Gatineau. The province normally sees 12 tornadoes a year.

A pond overflowing from one side of Chemin des Érables gushes into a gully on the opposite side of the street. The road collapsed during Thursday's torrential downpour. (CBC)

Thursday night's torrential downpour turned roads into rivers and flooded about 40 homes near the Gatineau River.

By the next morning in Gatineau, a large section of Chemin des Érables had collapsed, resulting in the road being closed.

One section of the washed-out street had become a waterfall, with water gushing out of a pond on one side of the road and cascading into a gully on the other. Parts of the guardrail lay crumpled below with a broken chunk of asphalt.

No power, phone service

Marc Perron, who has lived near Chemin des Érables for more than 20 years, said it was the worst flooding he's ever experienced.

"At some point it was so high, the water was going over the two gullies," he said. "There was almost a foot of water on the main street going above and coming down the street."

Fifth Avenue West in Gatineau washed out after heavy rain Thursday night. (CBC)

Perron was left to clean up water that had reached higher than 60 centimetres in his basement Friday. He and several of his neighbours lost power and phone service, and were forced to seek shelter elsewhere overnight, as were people living on Paquin Street.

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Nearby on Poirier Street, Suzanne Tremblay was in a similar situation — no electricity, no working phone line, and a ruined basement that had been newly renovated.

'Everything getting wet'

"All the moisture there is starting to smell up in our rooms, and everything is getting wet, so it's really bad," Tremblay said.

Among the property lost or damaged in the flood was a family photo album from her children.

"That's the main thing. The rest doesn't matter," she said.

Jonathan Legendre, who lives nearby, said he was forced to exit his building after he lost power.

Residents leave their homes after flooding in Gatineau near the Gatineau River. (CBC)

"We lost electricity so we couldn't even pump the water out...Water came in from both ditches," he said. "It's been coming up a foot a half hour ever since and it's going to keep coming up, so [the] basement is lost."

As Gatineau residents gathered to assess the damage in their neighbourhoods in the light of day, many complained that the city must find a way to divert water away from their homes in the future.

Residents said they'd been told by officials that the flood may have been caused by a beaver dam that burst, allowing the water to reach their homes.

Ottawa mostly spared

Gatineau officials were unavailable due to Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.

As for those people living on flooded streets, many spent their holidays cleaning up and waiting for the insurance assessors to arrive.

Most of Ottawa was spared the heavy rainfall and damage, receiving only about seven millimetres of rain, according to Environment Canada. To the west of Ottawa, 33 millimetres of rain fell in Renfrew.

Dunrobin Road in west Ottawa was also washed out between Kinburn Side Road and Constance Bay Road. Police have closed the road and are asking motorists to take alternate routes.