Canadian city's hurricane-force wind gust topples trees but NOT record

·4 min read
Canadian city's hurricane-force wind gust topples trees but NOT record
Canadian city's hurricane-force wind gust topples trees but NOT record

When any city in Canada is hit with a 123 km/h wind gust in April, you would think that would be enough to set a new record, but it wasn't.

But that's what happened in St. Catharines, Ont., Friday. It recorded a whopping wind gust of 123 km/h -- equivalent to the strength of a Category 1 hurricane. While that is an impressive number, it did fall short of its all-time monthly record -- as hard as that is to believe. The current record for the city sits at 137 km/h, a wind gust observed on April 3, 1982. So close.

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While St. Catharines didn't break a record, Port Colborne, however, did. The nearby neighbour to the south documented a 109 km/h gust, enough to topple its monthly record of 104 km/h that was established on April 10, 2015.

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It wasn't just those two communities that were hit with wicked winds on Friday. Southern Ontario was blasted by blustery gusts, prompting warnings and special weather statements. The winds were enough to knock out power to 100,000 customers at one point, also downing trees and power lines in some locales.

"Ordinarily, you associate damaging windstorms from a deep area of low pressure that provides a horizontal pressure gradient, but Friday highlighted a unique windstorm that stemmed from aloft," said Tyler Hamilton, a meteorologist at The Weather Network, on why the winds were so intense.

A "punchy" jet streak, a region of enhanced winds aloft, swept across southern Ontario, just above the surface, Hamilton noted.

The April sun angle heated and mixed the near-surface air, allowing for damaging wind gusts to funnel down to the surface, prompting gusts to exceed 100 km/h.

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image (3)

On Saturday morning, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) released a summary of other potent wind gusts recorded across southern Ontario Friday.

Some notable reports include 95 km/h at Hamilton airport, 92 km/h in Vineland, 91 km/h at Toronto Island and Brantford airport, 89 km/h at London airport, 88 km/h in Mount Forest, 87 km/h at Kingston airport and Point Petre, and 86 km/h at Toronto Pearson and Ottawa airports, among others.

With files from Tyler Hamilton, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

Thumbnail courtesy of Stephen Murdoch/Twitter, taken in St. Catharines, Ont.

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