BARRIE, ONT. – Multiple people were injured Thursday in a tornado that caused “catastrophic” damage in Barrie, Ont., police said, as first responders worked to assess the scope of the destruction.
Police were going door to door to check on residents in the area hit by the tornado, while paramedics provided first aid to those injured, said police spokesman Peter Leon.
Some homes have sustained structural damage, some have lost power and some gas lines have been affected, he said.
“The damage is catastrophic, it is significant, it is major,” Leon said, urging people to stay away from the area.
People in Barrie shared photos and videos of the destruction in the aftermath of the tornado, showing homes with their roofs partially torn off, overturned vehicles and debris littering the streets in parts of the city north of Toronto.
Geoff Coulson, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, said those images and videos have helped confirm the storm was indeed a tornado.
The tornado touched down around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, minutes after Environment Canada upgraded its tornado watch for the area to a warning, he said.
“We don’t have a sense of the damage path, the length or width of the path” that the tornado took when it touched down in Barrie, he said, but the agency is sending a team to investigate, as is the Northern Tornadoes Project at Western University.
The storm also touched down in Keswick, Ont., but whether that was also a tornado remains to be determined, he said.
The tornado warning for Barrie was lifted shortly before 3 p.m. as the storm moved east, but one is now in place for the Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes area.
“It looks like, as it’s moving further east, it will start to weaken somewhat, but it is still going to be a very dangerous storm for the next little while,” Coulson said.
“It is also important to remind folks that it does continue to be an ongoing situation, (thunderstorm) watches continue to be in effect for much of southern and eastern Ontario, and there is still a potential for damaging storms to occur through the late afternoon and evening hours in parts of the province.”
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