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Saturday's storm near Angus, Ont. being investigated for possible tornado

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This weekend's storm that brought heavy rainfall to Simcoe Muskoka is being investigated for tornado activity.

Environment Canada has confirmed to CTV News that it has reviewed videos from residents near Angus, Ont. showing a funnel cloud that formed around 3 p.m. close to Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden.

"It certainly looks like there was a tornado, but we haven't seen or been reported any damages in the area, so we can't confirm anything right now," said Simon Legault, Environment Canada meteorologist. "It's the distance pretty close to the ground. We don't see any debris being flown around, so it's hard to say if it's touched the ground because that's the definition of a tornado -- touching the ground for sure. So we just are looking for other information on that event."

On Saturday, the region received a rainfall warning and thunderstorm watch, but no tornado warning or watch was issued.

"It wasn't very clear if tornadoes would be able to form because of the layer that was more stable close to the ground, but any severe thunderstorms can create or just have some ingredients to form tornadoes," Legault said. "It's always a risk there, maybe a little bit more incident, but not very high risk. So we don't want to send out tornado warnings if that's the case, but we surely look into those kind of events to improve our services."

Environment Canada is encouraging residents who may have witnessed damage to report it. Legault said it's currently not clear if there has been any or if a tornado touched down.

Researchers from the Northern Tornadoes Project (NTP) at Western University were on the ground Sunday afternoon to confirm if a tornado touched down. However, the NTP said its investigation might be challenging due to its proximity to CFB Borden.  

“We use something called the enhanced Fujita scale to rate a tornado, ranging all the way from E-F Zero, which is about 90 kilometres an hour to E-F-5, which is over 300," said Connell Miller, an NTP Research Engineer. "But definitely this event, if anything, would be rated at the lower end of that scale."

A damaged tree was identified by Miller's team at the Canadian Forces base, but was unclear whether or not the funnel cloud caused it to snap.

A tree snapped at the trunk at CFB Borden, taken on June 23, 2024 (Mike Lang/CTV News). "We're taking a look at things like damage patterns, like did trees fall a certain way," he added. "Is there like splatter on different buildings that might indicate that a tornado might have occurred?”

Environment Canada's weather statements warned that as much as 80 millimetres of rain could have fallen throughout the weekend. 

In Angus, businesses reported flood levels rising to shin height in some parts of the town. 

At Mona's Jerk, its owner said water damage seeped inside. 

"That ceiling right there was full of water. And it all dropped to the computer, the food, everywhere was just water," said Mona Pereira, owner of Mona's Jerk.

"The internet is down, some electrical stuff is down. Everything is on the grill outside."

According to the NTP, the number of tornadoes tracked in Canada has doubled since 2017 and their proximity has shifted.

New data indicates from 1991 to 2020, Ontario had the most tornadoes per year with 18.3 on average, whereas previous data indicated that Saskatchewan was at the centre of tornadoes in Canada. 

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