Tornado rips Hamilton; Lawfield Elementary School, houses damaged beyond repair
This rare, late-season tornado touched down at 3:45pm, was up to 350m wide and tracked for 16km through residential and commercial areas of Hamilton and Stoney Creek. Several residents gave accounts of the tornado, described by many as a large funnel cloud with a swirling plume of debris that carved its way through residential streets.
The first sign of damage was along Rousseaux Street, near the intersection of Lincoln M Alexander Parkways and Highway 403, where trees were uprooted and snapped. Light damage occurred as the tornado travelled in an easterly direction, headed toward the East Mountain area.
Significant damage occurred in the East Mountain neighbourhood, where dozens of houses had windows shattered and siding ripped off, as well as damage to their roofs. Trees and power poles were snapped and downed throughout residential streets, some crashing onto homes and vehicles. Damage was particularly severe along Berko Avenue, where a row of houses had large sections of their roofs entirely removed. A dozen houses in the neighbourhood were condemned as damage peaked at the upper end of F1, approaching F2 in strength.
Also to be hit in the East Mountain neighbourhood was Lawfield Elementary School. Although classes had finished for the day and many students had left for home, several teachers and the school’s volleyball team were in the building when the tornado struck. One student described looking outside to see a spinning ‘big curved wall’ just before the tornado hit, sending glass and bricks flying. Two students, members of the volleyball team, received minor injuries from flying debris.
Large sections of the school’s roof were ripped off, walls buckled and windows shattered. The school was destroyed, deemed unsafe and in need of being torn down and rebuilt. Damage at the school alone was estimated to be over $10,000,000.
Further along the path, extensive tree damage occurred in the Rosedale area. Then, as the tornado entered Stoney Creek, several industrial buildings along Millen Avenue had sections of roofing and siding peeled off. In addition, large steel dumpsters were picked up and thrown over 25m. Fortunately the tornado weakened and dissipated before entering residential sections of Stoney Creek.