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Fatalities reported after damaging derecho slams southern Ontario

Saturday, May 21st 2022, 9:00 pm - A powerful derecho swept through southern Ontario Saturday afternoon, toppling trees, knocking out power and even tossing debris through windows. The storms have resulted in at least two deaths.

A line of powerful thunderstorms rolled through southern Ontario and left widespread damage on Saturday afternoon.

The storms were set off by a cold front sweeping in, slicing through the heat and humidity that was in place. This resulted in torrential rainfall, hail, frequent lightning, and damaging wind gusts.

Forecasters are calling the event a derecho - a group of thunderstorms that produces a swath of downburst winds that cause intermittent damage along a path over 600 km long and 100 km wide.

DerechoExplainer (1)

In this case, the damage extended almost 1,000 km from the Michigan border all the way to Quebec City, hitting the most populated part of the country with damaging wind gusts in excess of 120 km/h, according to Chris Scott, The Weather Network's chief meteorologist.

As a result of the winds and lightning strikes, there were widespread reports of downed trees and power lines across southern Ontario including the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

A fatality has been reported in Brampton after Peel Regional Police stated on Twitter that a woman was struck and killed by a large tree while she was walking in the storm.

OPP West Region stated on Twitter that one person has died and two others were injured after a tree fell on a camping trailer at Pinehurst Lake Conservation Area.

Broken window/Tyler Hamilton/TWN (Tyler Hamilton/The Weather Network)

As reported by CBC News, Toronto Police responded to a call for a marine rescue in the area of Lakeshore Boulevard West and Thirty Ninth Street at around 1 p.m. A number of people were rescued and none required hospitalization.

The storm unleashed some extreme wind gusts. Pearson International Airport saw its strongest May wind gust on record after hitting 120 km/h Saturday. It was its fifth strongest wind gust on record. It toppled its previous monthly record of 119 km/h that was documented on May 4, 2018.

wind

Pearson wasn't the only airport to record intense wind gusts. Ottawa International Airport documented its second strongest May wind gust on record, reaching 120 km/h -- its fourth highest of all time.

Kitchener-Waterloo recorded a 131 km/h gust that could be one of their strongest on record, according to Tyler Hamilton, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. Looking back on earlier totals, a 120 km/h gust was observed on March 30, 1981.

In downtown Toronto, debris tossed by the powerful wind gusts shattered windows in at least one apartment building. In Uxbridge, considerable damage including overturned vehicles, downed trees and power lines, as well as blown-off roof shingles, was reported after the storm plowed through.

Power outages are numerous as of Saturday afternoon, with hundreds of thousands left in the dark after the storm. Outage numbers will likely fluctuate for quite some time as the cleanup may take days.

It didn't take long for visuals of the storm, during and the aftermath, to surface on social media. Below is a collection of photos and videos that have been circulated so far.

Thumbnail courtesy of Carrie Chisholm/Twitter, taken in Uxbridge, Ont.

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