On Thursday July 15, 2021 around 2:30 PM a EF-2 Tornado struck my neighbourhood. The information below is based on my experience during that day.
I was supposed to be working at the office but because my daughter (who turned 1 year old just days before) had a appointment to get some needles done that morning, I worked from home that day. Off topic, I do remember getting a coffee and for some reason it had a hole in the cup and flooded my cars middle dashboard. What a fun time 😅
I knew very well that storms were expected that day. In fact the day before I pointed out to my local Stormcahsing Group on iMessage that because we had strong low level winds that Severe Wind Gusts were possible. Below is a selected list of Model data images that I saved for analysis. The HRRR, NAM, ECMWF, GFS & GEM models are from their respective 12Z run on that day and covers either 18Z (2pm) or 19Z (3pm), the timeframe around the Tornado occurance. The Storm Prediction Centre (SPC) Mesocale Analysis is from the 17Z run.
Early that afternoon I was working on my front porch with my daughter playing in her cart. Once we heared thunder in the distance it was time to bring everything inside. At 2pm my wife put our daughter to her usual nap and I had a work meeting and although my main concentration was on that meeting, I did had a contsant look at the Weather radar. The radar images below are from the Buffalo Radar.
At around 2:20 PM I noticed some strong rotation returned from the King City Radar (which recently went back online after a few months of dual-polarization upgrades). I texted my Stormchasing iMessage group that this looks like a dangerous situation.
I was constantly looking out the front door window to see if I can see anything. All I could see was sheets of rain moving really fast across the sky. It looked really cool actually. The fast movement in my head was all about the fact that we had a low level jet nosing into the area. I never had a clear look at the sky because at the same time I was still in my work meeting before the power went out completely. Then I saw debry floating in the distance over the houses across my street!
Instant reaction kicked in and wasted no time rushing upstairs to wake up my wife and telling her to go to the basement. I went to our daughters room and grabbed her and we all rushed down the stairs. I'm not going to lie, this process took longer than it probably should, at least 1 minute. We were only in the basement for 30 seconds until we heard a big metal bang. Just like that it was over. I was able to hear the rain outside in the basement, so I knew the windows were blown out in the living room. I instantly texted me Stormchasing iMessage group: "Massive Hit. We got damage."
I wanted to run upstairs immediately knowing it was over (I would have likely seen the Tornado in the distance if I did), but I had my daughter in my arms and decided to wait another minute. Once we came back upstairs and looked out our backyard my jaw dropped the ground. I couldn't actually believe I got hit by a Tornado.
Going to the front the damage was even more mindblowing. Across the street there were no roofs or in some cases the 2nd floor wall was collapsed. My car is totally destroyed.
Afterwards, we let our family, work and landlord know what happened and that we were ok. Once emergency personal arrived in our part of the street we were evacuated because of a gas leak and we were asked to go to a local school where the City of Barrie and a bunch of other regional Emergency Services quickly set up a Command Center. Whatever emergency plan the City of Barrie had in place seemed really impressive and well executed in my opinion.
The folks over at Envrionment Canada took a lot of heat after the event as their Tornado Warning came to late. I remember the Warning coming AFTER we got hit, I just don't remember how long the delay was. With the data we know that since the Tornado hit just after 2:30pm and the Tornado Warning came at 2:38pm.
Nobody knows what happend at their office and what discussions they had during that time other than them. From my point of view the area of rotation was quite visible on the King City radar as the storm moved east of Angus towards Barrie. Had the Tornado Warning been issued than it would have given residents in the path up to 5, potentially even 10 minutes lead time. Perhaps Envrionment Canada waited until visible confirmation? We all know that it would be too late by than, especially in a populated area.
What is obvious is that Envrionment Canada's weather warning system needs an overhaul. I have tweeted (here and here) about this many times before. This is not the first time Environment Canada got it wrong, and with their current system won't be the last time. In the United States, the National Weather Service actually draws a polygon around Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Warnings, and only the areas that are in the path of the storm will get the Warning. Its possible that the infrastructure in Canada doesn't support this. Well if it doesn't, make it happen! We are talking about the differnce of life and death here. If I can build something where I draw polygions on a Map to create Weather Forecasts, then surely the Government of Canada can do that too. I know, it sounds absolutely arrogant from me but something needs to change. Not only a criteria WHEN warnings are being issued, but HOW the warnings are being created.
I'm hopeful that we can have a better weather warning system for Canada. Let's hope it comes sooner than later.
Below are other social media & Video reports of the Barrie Tornado. Disclaimer: These are not my footages and used the websites respective "embed" features to include the m on this page.