Rexdale, ON F1 Tornado of July 8, 1996

City of Toronto

This tornado was small and brief, estimated only to be between 10m and 30m wide, and with a path of 500m. It touched down at 6:15 pm, shredding trees and striking a Sears building in an industrial area. The large warehouse had areas of its roof peeled off and punctured with holes, and damage was estimated to be over $1,000,000 at the time. Metal and debris from the building were thrown over 1km away into a cemetery. The tornado was witnessed by a local firefighter who described a cone funnel with a plume of swirling debris.

Figure 1 depicts the surface analysis at 8:00 pm EDT, which depicts a low pressure across the Great Lakes and a warm front in central Ontario. A surface high pressure is also depicted just on the shore of Lake Erie. I suspect thunderstorms initiated due to southerly winds travelling over Lake Erie towards the low pressure. This would have activated the lake-breeze boundaries during peak heating.

Figure 1. Surface analysis at 00Z on July 9, 1996 showing mean sea-level pressure (MSLP) contours, surface observations, fronts and pressure centres (WPC, 2017)

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (2018), an F1 tornado touched down at 6:15 pm EDT near Rexdale, ON. The tornado travelled for 10 km, but its width was not catalogued by ECCC. The tornado caused no fatalities and no injuries, but caused $500 thousand dollars in property damage.


NWS Weather Prediction Center Surface Analysis Archive. (2017). Surface analysis 00Z Tue Jul 9 1996. Retrieved from:

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