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Preliminary evidence shows tornado hit Blenheim, downburst struck Harrow during storm | CBC News


Early indications are a tornado touched down in Blenheim, Ont., and a downburst in Harrow, Ont., during Wednesday’s summer storm that ripped across southwestern Ontario.

As for the Kingsville and Leamington areas, it’s believed damage was the result of very strong winds.

The Northern Tornado Project — a group of Western University researchers — was in the area yesterday to survey damage.

Harrow house hit by a tree during a July 26, 2023 storm.
Harrow house hit by a tree during a July 26, 2023 storm. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

The group’s executive director, David Sills, told CBC News their final results are expected to be released later today, but that’s what preliminary evidence suggests.

“In Blenheim, with a narrower path and a longer track of damage there. And downbursts in Harrow … so a wider path of damage there … damage just all in one direction,” said Sills.

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Residents of Harrow, Ont., a small town near Lake Erie, recount their experiences of a big summer storm that swept across parts of southwestern Ontario Wednesday, causing significant damage.

Radar showed a storm with rotation over Blenheim, according to Sills, which is usually what you get with a tornado. They saw a big burst of wind on radar that went through Harrow. 

Sills said despite damage in the Kingsville and Leamington, areas it appears those towns experienced very strong winds and not a tornado or downburst.

“In order to say it was a downburst, we need kind of a concentration of damage.”

David Sills, executive director of Western University's Northern Tornadoes Project is seen at his office in London, Ont.
David Sills, executive director of Western University’s Northern Tornadoes Project is seen at his office in London, Ont. (Megan McCleister/CBC)

Sills said once confirmed by his team, the tornado in Blenheim would rate near the bottom of the enhanced Fujita (EF) scale — which ranges from EF-0 to EF-5.

“So we have zero, maybe one. Thankfully, it’s mostly trees that took the brunt and we didn’t have a lot of houses that had a lot of damage, other than if a tree fell on them, of course. But it could have been worse.”

Parts of Chatham-Kent and Essex County remain in cleanup mode from storms that swept through on Wednesday.

Mature trees were toppled, homes damaged and electricity lines brought down.


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