The air became thick and muggy into the afternoon of September 2, 1984, as a tight warm sector of an impending low-pressure system crept into southwestern Ontario. The sultry conditions would pave the way for a cold front’s dramatic entrance within the following few hours of daylight on what would prove to be an unforgettable Labor Day weekend for Londoners.
Robust thunderstorms developed in the late afternoon and stretched across the northwestern horizon. The skies quickly blackened with eye-catching forked lightning as the storm approached the city of London. Taking on supercellular characteristics, it began to produce large hail, severe winds, and a rotating wall cloud as it passed over the Thames River.
Around 7:15 pm a funnel cloud quickly took shape and made contact with the ground on the west end of the Cleardale subdivision in South London.
A man living at 11 Hines Crescent who was looking out his back window saw the tornado form in a nearby field. Within seconds, the tornado struck part his home, heralded by a loud noise and knocking him to the floor. It continued down Hines Crescent to the bottom at Crawford Street. Here, a duplex was hit as well, with half its roof being blown off, windows shattered and siding removed.
Moving south-southeast, the tornado crossed Crawford Street where at Clearview Court townhouses it removed roofs and part of upper structures off a number of units.
South and adjacent to the townhouse property, the tornado tracked between two large apartment buildings, blowing out most of their windows.
Crossing Southdale Road East, two 18 metre construction trailers were destroyed as the storm entered the Whiteoaks subdivision. Elvira Crescent, Sasha Crescent, Ernest Avenue, Muriel Crescent, and part of Locust Crescent all received significant damage to houses, trees, and other infrastructure.
Remaining on a southeast course, the tornado advanced across Bradley Avenue at Jane Boulevard toward the Whiteoaks Mall where the tornado clipped the northeast side of the building.
Crossing Wellington Road to the immediate east, the tornado struck a large hotel sign and bent it to the ground. It also blew in the roof, front windows, and doors in at Andre’s Steak House on the same property. Nearby, a truck and 35ft trailer were flipped over.
The tornado continued on crossing Dearness Drive and ripped off the roof of a 7-storey apartment building.
Immediately to the east, the industrial area of Hargrieve Road and Bessemer Road took a direct hit from the storm. High-end F2 damage to commercial buildings occurred here as the tornado flattened sections of steel roof and concrete block walls.
Shortly thereafter, the tornado dissipated in a field between Bessemer Road and Highway 401.
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (2018), an F2 tornado touched down at 7:20 pm EDT in London, ON and travelled for 3.63 km with a maximum width of 120 metres. The tornado caused no fatalities but caused 33 injuries and $5 million dollars in property damage.
Environment and Climate Change Canada Data. (2018). Canadian National Tornado Database: Verified Events (1980-2009) – Public. Retrieved from: http://donnees.ec.gc.ca/data/weather/products/canadian-national-tornado-database-verified-events-1980-2009-public/