News — 21 June 2017
Storm damage may be caused by ‘downburst’ phenomenon, says meteorologist

An uprooted poplar tree damaged a vehicle on Van Horne Avenue near the hospital hill. Photo by Michael Christianson

By Michael Christianson

Warning Preparedness Meteorologist Geoff Coulson was in Dryden last week to train another group of storm trackers in the CANWARN system of severe weather watching and reporting. With two storms hitting the area in two days the training came at a very appropriate time. 

“A lot of active weather, we’ve been trying to gather as many of the reports as we can to get a sense of was there a path of damage, a real organized track of damage or was it damage scattered around the area,” said Coulson. “At this point it seems to be pockets of damage here and there, mostly tree damage but I guess some sheds took some damage as well. Certainly seems to be on the lower end of the damage scale, winds would be consistent with speeds of 90 to 100 km/h in many of the cases. Some of the trees as well it looked to be a case more of older trees, trees starting to rot a bit from the inside and making them somewhat weaker or more susceptible to the winds that occurred but a very active set of days in the Dryden area.”

Coulson said downburst may be responsible for some of the wind damage and certainly they are a factor when it comes to storms across Ontario. While tornadoes can stretch across a width of 100-300 meters downbursts can occur over kilometers.

Coulson once again emphasized lightning safety at this training session with the message of ‘when thunder roars, go indoors.’ He added that you should stay inside at least 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder to allow the storm to move away and not risk being hit by any rogue lightning bolts escaping from the storm.

At the training session Coulson once again spoke to a full classroom about the history of extreme weather in Ontario and prepared the room for future storms.

“Another good trip through the northwest this year, very happy with the numbers that we are seeing,” said Coulson. “We had a solid crowd out in Thunder Bay, good crowds in Fort Frances and both sessions in Kenora and really wrapping up with the biggest crowds over the whole tour here in Dryden where it looks like we’ve got well over 35 people that have come out for the training and that’s what it’s all about, growing the numbers in the northwest. This is a particular challenging area to forecast so the more eyes and ears we have on the ground the better our watch and warning program is going to be.”

High winds swept into Dryden last week knocking down trees and power lines. At Marlies Weigelt’s house trees were broken and torn up, a tree house even ended up upside down. Weigelt’s says it’s the worst damage a storm has ever caused in her 55 years on the property.

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Chris Marchand is a native of Dryden, Ontario. He served his first newspaper internship at The Dryden Observer in 1998 while attending journalism studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops B.C. He's worked desks as both reporter and editor at the Fernie Free Press as well as filled the role of sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. Marchand was named editor of the Dryden Observer in Aug. 2009.

(1) Reader Comment

  1. If you look closely at the trees in the photos you will see they are rotted – the core is not solid. They should have been removed long ago. This is not uncommon – for storm damage trees to be unsound. Unfortunately, they are the mature trees that offer lots of shade. But they are an accident waiting to happen.

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