30 Years of Ottawa-area Tornadoes

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The EF1 tornado that struck Orleans on June 2 came far too quickly on the heels of the devastating tornadoes that ripped through nearby communities on September 21, 2018. These recent events are the latest and – in the case of the 2018 outbreak – most significant in the Ottawa area’s long history of tornadoes.

June 2, 2019 . EF1 Tornado at Orleans

Less than one year after communities around Ottawa were devastated by powerful tornadoes that decimated forests and blew apart blocks of homes, residents once again watched in awe as a tornado raced through city neighbourhoods. This tornado was thankfully weaker, an EF1, but caused considerable damage as it swept through Orleans.

It spun up at 5:54pm near the Place D’Orleans Shopping Centre and then tracked for more than 25km, roughly along Highway 174. The tornado snapped and uprooted trees and tore up roofing as it passed through residential sections of Orleans. Residents captured photos and videos of the tornado as it morphed from a lofted cone with a debris plume at its base to a tapered elephant trunk. The tornado weakened as it moved east out of Orleans and likely dissipated between Cumberland and Clarence Creek.

September 21, 2018 . EF3 Tornado from Kinburn – Dunrobin – Gatineau

This was the most significant tornado to hit Ontario since the Goderich tornado of 2011 and one of the most powerful since the 1985 EF4s at Barrie and Grand Valley. It formed near the community of Kinburn, where farms and homes suffered significant damage. Residents captured photos and videos of the tornado as it passed by the town, a large cone with a debris plume swirling at its base.

From there the tornado grew in size as it intensified. It took aim at the village of Dunrobin and plowed directly into the community. The damage was catastrophic. The tornado shredded trees, picked up and hurled vehicles, and blew apart dozens of houses. A few were levelled to the ground, their debris swept away leaving only bare foundations. In addition, the tornado damaged the beloved Heart and Soul Cafe and blew apart its neighbouring gift shop. It blasted through the Dunrobin Plaza, exploding widows and tearing apart the roof. Media reports indicated that dozens of people suffered minor injuries, and up to six people were left in critical condition. The tornado dissipated at around 5:20pm after being on the ground for around forty minutes.

Departing the ravaged village, the tornado crossed the Ottawa River and passed into Quebec. It tracked north of Aylmer and then into the western Mont-Bleu neighbourhood of Gatineau. It tore the roofs and upper stories off of dozens of buildings and apartment complexes, hurled debris and flipped cars. Residents of Ottawa captured videos of the tornado from the south side of the river as it cut through Gatineau.

September 21, 2018 . EF2 Tornado at Nepean

Shortly after the first EF3 tornado that ripped Kinburn, Dunrobin and Gatineau dissipated, this second tornado struck at around 6:00pm. It touched down near the Veterans Memorial Highway and then decimated forest as it approached the heavily-populated Arlington Woods neighbourhood of residential Ottawa. It ripped through blocks of homes and caused extensive damage through the heavily-treed streets. Tall pines were sheared off and hurled through houses and vehicles. Houses were pockmarked by debris as windows shattered and roofs were ripped up. Several homes had their entire roofs and second stories blown away. Parkland Crescent was particularly hard hit. The tornado tore the roof off of the Arlington Woods Methodist Church on McLellan Rd, then overturned vehicles and snapped power lines as it roared across Greenbank Rd. From there it ripped into the neighbouring Craig Henry subdivision where it weakened somewhat but still caused devastating tree damage.

July 29, 2013 . EF0 Tornado in Ottawa

This EF0 tornado struck the Pine View Golf Course on the east side of Ottawa, causing light tree and property damage. The damage occurred in a long track that was approximately 100m wide. It touched down at around 5:00pm as witnesses reported viewing a funnel cloud in the Blair Road area. It then passed through the golf course as witnesses caught videos of the tornado, a low-hanging cone with narrow vortices periodically condensing and dancing at its base.

June 23, 2011 . F0 Tornado at Kanata

Several witnesses captured this F0 tornado in photos and on video as it touched down briefly near Kanata. It did not cause any notable damage.

April 25, 2009 . F0 Tornado in Ottawa

The tornado touched down at 7:30pm and travelled for 5km through the west end of Ottawa, from Brittania Park to Carlington Heights. Along its path that was between 50m and 150m wide, the tornado snapped and uprooted trees, knocked down power poles and peeled the roofing from a few apartment complexes, earning it a high-end F0 rating. People reported witnessing a funnel cloud with swirling debris.

June 23, 2002 . F2 Tornado at Fallowfield

The tornado was only on the ground for 1 kilometre, but it had a width of 500 metres and passed directly through Fallowfield. The twister snapped and uprooted trees, caused structural damage to almost all houses in the village, and sent debris scattered throughout. At one home, a large piece of lumber was found piercing the bottom of an in-ground swimming pool that was full of water.

Throughout the village, garages, barns and outbuildings were demolished; one barn was torn entirely from its foundation and destroyed, and Mowat’s silos on the south side of town were heavily damaged.

May 24, 2000 . F1 Tornado at Gloucester

At 5:00 pm, the tornado touched down in a neighbourhood about 5 kilometres to the east of downtown Ottawa, and travelled for 3 kilometres along Ogilvie Road. Trees were snapped and uprooted, power poles knocked down and fences torn apart. An apartment building had most of its roof torn off, as did one nearby house, and the canopy was ripped off of a gas station and thrown 20 metres away. Witnesses reported observing a funnel cloud with debris.

July 23, 1996 . F1 Tornado at Woodlawn

Half of the roof was torn off of the Torbolton Public School’s gymnasium as this probable tornado touched down between 3:00 and 3:30pm. Roofs were torn off of barns, one of which collapsed, and trees were snapped and uprooted. Witnesses described observing the tornado which had the appearance of a plume of swirling smoke. Damage was estimated at $120,000.

August 4, 1994 . F2 Tornado at Carp

This tornado touched down at around 3:30pm near Carp, causing extensive damage at area farms. At one that was particularly hard hit, a farmhouse was left pockmarked by flying debris and had windows smashed and large sections of its roof torn off. A neighbouring barn also had portions of its roof ripped off before the structure collapsed entirely. A number of cattle were killed before the tornado reached the Ottawa River. Damage totalled over $2,000,000.

This was one of two tornadoes to touch down in Eastern Ontario on August 4; the other was an F1 at Alexandria. A third tornado also touched down just east of there at Aylmer, Quebec. This more powerful twister was an F3 that damaged and destroyed hundreds of homes through the town.

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