UPDATE July 18: The Northern Tornadoes Project has confirmed that the damage was caused by a tornado. Preliminary damage assessment is EF2, with an estimated max. wind speed of 190 km/h, track length of 4.76 km and max. path width of 360 m. Tornado motion was from the SW (approx. 235 degrees).
It was déjà vu for residents along the South Portage Road corridor near Dwight late in the afternoon of July 15 when what may have been a tornado tore through the forest between Peninsula Lake and South Portage Road, downing trees and power lines.
Last summer, an EF2 tornado with an estimated wind speed of 190 km/hr travelled 23 km from the eastern shore of Mary Lake to northeast of Dwight, along with a concurrent downburst in the Dwight area, causing significant tree and structural damage. Yesterday’s damage in Dwight was just west of that path.
A team from the Northern Tornadoes Project will be investigating this latest event.
Dwight resident Susan Burger can count herself three times lucky. A path of felled trees extending up the hill behind her South Portage Road home shows just how close she and her husband were to the destruction. A tree came down across their driveway, but their house was undamaged. The 2020 storm missed their house as well. And they once lived in Waterloo on a golf course where a twister followed the fairway behind their home.
“We were standing in the kitchen [yesterday]…and it was like, ‘boom, boom’ and down,” said Burger, adding that the couple headed for the basement when the winds hit hard. “We’re looking at really big trees and root systems that are enormous. We are lucky. The rain was going sideways, and the wind, and then you couldn’t see anything.”
Severe winds felled mature trees behind the Burger house on South Portage Road on July 15 (Dawn Huddlestone)
Area photographer Daniel McCoy posted drone footage to YouTube showing some of the damage:
Residents on Wolf Bay Road, along the southeastern edge of Peninsula Lake, witnessed heavy winds that took down trees and power lines.
John Stuart had a tree come down in front of his property, narrowly missing his vehicle.
“It was all over in five minutes,” he said. “It dropped the tree in front of the house. I heard that go, and then I heard the one go up [the road]and that shook the ground when it went down.”
Hydro One crews were working to restore power on Wolf Bay Road on July 16 following the previous day’s storm (Dawn Huddlestone)
This was the second severe weather event in North Muskoka this week. On Tuesday, July 13, Tasso Lake residents witnessed heavy winds that caused significant tree damage, as well as some structural damage. Initial assessment by the Northern Tornadoes Project suggests the damage was caused by a downburst, but official classification is still pending.
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