Environment Canada confirms EF-0 tornado hit Leamington

Environment Canada has confirmed an EF-0 tornado with maximum wind speeds of 130 km/h hit Leamington Friday night.

The tornado touched down about 5:40 p.m., while a Tornado Watch was in effect, damaging solar panels and a greenhouse.

A more severe tornado, classified as an EF-2 tornado with maximum wind speeds of 180 km/h, hit Hawkesville near Kitchener-Waterloo about 7:30 p.m. The damage track was estimated by a field ssessment team at five kilometres.

"Farm buildings and sheds were damaged with one anchored shed completely destroyed," said Environment Canada in a weather summary issued shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday. "Farm equipment weighing over a ton was knocked over including a fork lift, a metal press and grain drill. Power lines were snapped."

Residents near Leamington and Wheatley shared pictures of a funnel cloud on social media Friday night along with pictures of damaged solar panels and greenhouses. 

Environment Canada made its assessment of the Leamington tornado based on photographs and damage reports but stopped short of sending a field team because the damage appeared to be isolated and less severe than in Hawkesville.

"That looks like a tornado to me," said Rob Kuhn, a severe weather meteorologist with Environment Canada, of photos snapped by residents.

Kuhn said it appeared from the photos that debris was being picked up by the funnel cloud. 

Dave Epp snapped pictures of the twister Friday from his home on Mersea Road 1, just east of Leamington.

"You could actually see it touch right to the ground," he said. "That's a tornado."

A couple of farms farther north from Epp suffered damages. Epp's brother has two sets of solar panels that were destroyed with the panels scattered throughout the field. 

"It just missed my brother's house by about a 100 feet," he said. 

Next door to his brother's home on North Talbot Road, greenhouses at Thiessen Apple Orchard were damaged as well. 

"There's a mess of glass everywhere," Epp said. "I can't tell you how long it will be to get that cleaned up." 

Last year, two tornadoes tore through parts of Windsor and neighbouring LaSalle, leaving destruction in their paths. 

The first tornado started from the Detroit River near Islandview Marina and tracked two kilometres through LaSalle. The second touched down a short while later in Windsor near Walker Road, tracking eight kilometres.

The tornadoes were the worst to strike the region in the previous five years, according to Environment Canada.