The Alma – Hillsburgh Tornado (DONE)

Fierce F3 tornado destroys buildings near Alma

At 4:15pm on May 31, 1985, this tornado touched down just NW of Alma, a small farming village about 10km NW of Fergus. The tornado rapidly intensified as it tracked ENE across farm properties in Peel Township. In this area, the tornado levelled a house, leaving only the foundation with plumbing fixtures exposed. Other houses along the tornado’s path in this area were severely damaged, barns destroyed, and other outbuildings were severely mangled.

As the tornado progressed eastward, it crossed Highway 6 at Cumnock where roofs were removed from 2 houses and at least one barn was levelled. Debris from the properties affected was scattered far and wide in farm fields throughout this area.

East of Highway 6, the tornado continued its fury across farm properties where another house roof was ripped off and a car (with occupant) flung 50 feet and demolished. The woman who was inside was rushed to hospital with broken leg bones.

At Highland Pines Trailer Campground on Belwood Lake, people watched the tornado approach from the west, where it appeared as a black funnel with blue skies on either side. As it neared the campground, individuals took shelter with only a few moments notice. The park took a direct hit and the camp office (and attached house) had its roof, some walls and a number of windows removed. 5 cars and a truck were also damaged or destroyed in the park, including that of a family who had just arrived for the weekend. The tornado lifted their car off the ground, tumbling it about as trees were uprooted along the driveway. Luckily, there were no fatalities but the family sustained 4 of the 26 injuries the were reported at the park.

After tracking through the campground, the tornado narrowed significantly and passed over Belwood Lake, just south of the village of Belwood. Between Belwood and Simpson Corners, a family’s house and barns were destroyed. Furthermore, an old stone farmhouse in the immediate area also was hit and suffered loss of its roof and a newly built addition.

The tornado’s path continued to narrow to ~30m as it began to skip along through the Orton area. Only minor and sporadic damage to trees was reported for the final 10km to Hillsburgh where the tornado finally lifted.