Gads Hill, ON F2 Tornado of May 22, 2004

Huron - Perth

Striking and devastating just one farm at Gads Hill, this short-lived but intense tornado was the strongest in the province since April 20th, 1996. A large old Victorian home had its roof and a second storey wall torn off, as well as its back rooms on the first storey levelled. Windows were shattered and debris pierced the house throughout. A well-build barn was swept from its foundation and destroyed, as was the neighbouring drive shed. Almost every tree on the property was uprooted or snapped, a number of which were also debarked.

Environment Canada determined that the tornado left a path 2.2 kilometres long and 30 metres wide. Several lists and media accounts that reflect on the May 22nd tornadoes incorrectly refer to this twister as having been rated F3; this was due to a preliminary comment to the media by an Environment Canada official at the time, stating that the tornado may have been F2 or even F3. Ultimately it was rated a high-end F2 and not an F3. Regardless, this was a very close call for the town of Stratford which, had the tornado struck just a few kilometres south, would have surely been devastated by this powerful tornado.

This was one of four tornadoes that touched down during this small tornado outbreak in Southern Ontario. The others were an F2 tornado that struck Mitchell, an F1 at Winthrop, and an F0 at Belton.

Figure 1 depicts the surface observations at 5:00 pm EDT, which shows a stationary front across southern Ontario. This front became the focus for intense thunderstorms across southern Ontario, which ultimately resulted in two F2 tornadoes, one F1 tornado and one F0 tornado.

Figure 1. Surface analysis at 21Z on May 22, 2004 showing mean sea-level pressure (MSLP) contours, surface observations, fronts and pressure centres (WPC, 2017)

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (2018), an F2 tornado touched down at 6:30 pm EDT near Gads Hill, ON. The tornado travelled for 2.2 km and had a maximum width of 30 metres. The tornado caused no fatalities, injuries or property damage.


NWS Weather Prediction Center Surface Analysis Archive. (2017). Surface analysis 21Z Sat May 22 2004. Retrieved from:

Environment and Climate Change Canada Data. (2018). Canadian National Tornado Database: Verified Events (1980-2009) – Public. Retrieved from: