Environment Canada says damage from strong winds in Fort St. John Friday evening is consistent with a low-level tornado.
"We're seeing a lot of pictures of damage and our information from our radar and satellite imagery and lightning detection system indicates there was a likely tornado, very likely," said meteorologist Doug Lundquist.
The winds in northeastern B.C. ripped roofs off houses, ripped fences from yards and caused power outages in the city of Fort St. John Friday evening.
There were severe thunderstorm warnings Friday evening, but Trevor Bolin, a city councillor, says he noticed something was different around 7:45 p.m.
"As soon as the rain started to fall sideways that's when you know things went really strange," he said. "I could see trees that were literally leaning sideways. One of them was starting to uproot completely that had been there for 10 or 12 years."
Bolin says the wind swept through his neighbourhood in about 10 minutes. RCMP officers and the Fort St. John fire department responded shortly after and checked all the houses. Photos posted on social media showed several houses had their roofs ripped off.
The City of Fort St. John posted on its Facebook page Saturday morning saying the storm had caused damage and power outages to several areas and that emergency crews were responding.
It says Surerus Park received significant damage and is closed to the public until crews clean up the debris. The city added that people should use caution in other parks and trails as the damage is still being assessed.
"Remember to use caution as debris has been reported throughout the city," reads the statement on the municipality's Facebook page. "Additionally, use caution if you are using candles while the power is out."
According to Lundquist, tornadoes are not common in the Peace region.
"I've worked forecast in this area for 33 years. It's very rare. I don't remember any community in B.C. having that much damage from a tornado in my career or in the Peace."
Bolin says the residents of the town are no stranger to serious weather events, but last night was still a surprise.
"I have never seen anything like this in Fort St. John before," said Bolin. "I've lived here for 40 awesome years and I know this is something that is completely out of the ordinary and it's a little bit shocking."