Elie Tornado Upgraded to Highest Level on Damage Scale
Canada’s First Official F5 Tornado
WINNIPEG– September 18, 2007 – Environment Canada meteorologists have confirmed that the Elie, Manitoba tornado of June 22, 2007 reached F5 intensity, the highest rating on the Fujita tornado damage scale, making it thefirst officially documented F5 tornado in Canada.
The Fujita scale measures the strength of tornadoes based on damage indicators. An F5 tornado accounts for about one tenth of one percent of all tornadoes in North America.
Preliminary assessment by Environment Canada’s onsite storm survey team had earlier indicated clear evidence of F4 damage. However, damage seen at two of the homes indicated possible F5 intensity. Based on further evaluation, including review of additional video images, Environment Canada meteorologists at the Prairie and Arctic Storm Prediction Centre in Winnipeg confirm evidence of F5 level damage.
Environment Canada reports the video confirmed some of the suspected F5 evidence seen onsite in June. An almost intact house can be seen being thrown several hundred metres through the air before disintegrating and falling to the ground. Seconds later a heavy van is seen being whirled through the air; it was later found in an open field south of the main damage.
In order to rate a tornado, only one instance of any one damage indicator has to be clearly met. With two F5 damage indicators occurring within seconds of each other, experts decided to re-evaluate some of the evidence seen in June.
The Elie tornado was on the ground for about 35 minutes, and traveled for a distance of about 5.5 km. Damage occurred in a swath up to 300 metres wide. Wind speeds are estimated to have reached between 420 to 510 km/h when the tornado was at its most intense.
Fortunately, there were no fatalities or serious injuries with either the Elie tornado or the F4 tornado which struck Birtle, Manitoba in 1994. Manitoba’s only other documented F4 tornado, which struck the Rosa-St. Malo area in 1977, resulted in three fatalities. The F2 tornado which struck Gull Lake, Manitoba in 2006 caused one fatality and numerous injuries.
Eleven tornadoes have occurred in Manitoba so far this summer. In 2006, Manitoba experienced 15 tornadoes, compared to a long term (1984-2006) average of nine tornadoes.
Canadaranks second in the world for tornado occurrences, experiencing an average of 80-100 tornadoes annually, compared to an average of 1000-1200 in the United States each year. The incidence of tornadoes in Canada is likely higher than that, but because Canada has large, unmonitored and sparsely populated areas, many more tornadoes may go unreported.
The science of storms is a priority for Environment Canada, and work is ongoing to enhance and continuously improve our understanding and knowledge of severe weather patterns and tornadoes. Environment Canada welcomes videos and photos of severe weather events. Members of the public willing to share their images or video may do so via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, please contact:
Warning Preparedness Meteorologist
Winnipeg , Manitoba
Environment Canada Media Relations
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