Suspected tornado damages homes and barns in Quebec, but no injuries reported

RIGAUD, Que. — A suspected tornado that touched down in southwestern Quebec late Monday afternoon has damaged homes and farm buildings, but a local fire official said no injuries have been reported.

Rigaud Fire Department acting chief Guillaume Roy said four homes were damaged, including one whose roof was ripped off, and a number of barns and grain silos were damaged, too.

"One garage disappeared and all the chickens in it -- we don't know where it went," Roy said in a phone interview Monday night

He said it was lucky no one was hurt.

Julie Lemieux, the mayor of Très-Saint-Rédempteur, about eight kilometres southwest of Rigaud, said in a Facebook post that an apparent tornado had toppled trees and knocked out power in the area and Hydro-Québec crews were working to restore it.

The mayor advised residents to remain careful as another storm cell was expected to pass through the region later Monday night.

Environment Canada meteorologist Jean-Philippe Begin said a severe thunderstorm was passing through the Rigaud area at the time. He said the weather agency has received photo and video submissions from the public that show damage as well as what appears to be a tornado moving across a field, but he said they won't be confirming it was actually a tornado until a further investigation is complete.

"I would say it's likely a tornado -- very likely a tornado -- because we recognize the landscape on some pictures, so those images have been taken in Rigaud," Begin said.

The investigation, Begin said, would be carried out in conjunction with the University of Western Ontario's Northern Tornadoes Project, which late Monday night concluded that based on witness video and pictures, a tornado had occurred near Rigaud.

The post also noted that there are reports of damage extending to the southwest of Rigaud approaching the Ontario boundary.

"An NTP damage survey team will begin an investigation tomorrow," the post said.

Roy said a home in Très-Saint-Rédempteur, which is part of his department's coverage area, was the first place firefighters were called at 5:33 p.m. A roof on a house there is gone, he said, and the garage "flew away."

Minutes later, three more houses were hit as the tornado progressed towards Rigaud and then later in the direction of Pointe-Fortune. It appeared a roof had been torn from a barn, while another barn's roof was partially collapsed, he said.

Roy said numerous trees and power lines were down, too.

Begin said May is the beginning of severe weather season in Quebec, with July seeing the most action.

"The busiest months are ahead of us, so June, July, August and September are busier months than May. So it's only the beginning," Begin said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2024.

The Canadian Press