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3 tornadoes touched down in southwest Ontario in August: Northern Tornadoes Project

September 11, 2023 
By Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


The Northern Tornadoes Project (NTP), a program operated out of Western University, has confirmed three tornadoes – in Windsor, Tecumseh, and Cottam, Ont. – touched down in the region during the severe storm on the evening of August 24.

NTP provided an update to its investigation into the August 24 storm that started around 10:30pm – that resulted in flooding in many areas of the region – and confirmed an EF1 tornado occurred in Tecumseh. Further, an EF1 tornado was confirmed to have occurred near Cottam.

The Tecumseh tornado was estimated to have a maximum wind speed of 145 km/h, track length of 22.0 km, and maximum path width of 1.05km.

According to the NTP, the Cottam tornado started around 10:45pm, just east of the end point of the Tecumseh tornado and was associated with the same storm.

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The second tornado developed further east as this tornado dissipated, starting northeast of Cottam and causing up to EF1 damage as it tracked southeastward before dissipating in the Leamington area, information from NTP notes.

Damage of the Cottam tornado was assessed as EF1 tornado, with an estimated maximum wind speed of 145 km/h, track length of 13.8 km, and maximum path width of 670m.

NTP reported that the Tecumseh and Cottam tornadoes resulted in several homes and barns being damaged, along with power poles and trees. No injuries were reported.

A further update from NTP confirmed Windsor had an EF0 tornado the same evening at 10:30pm. This tornado had an estimated maximum wind speed of 125 km/h, track length of 12.5 km, and maximum path width of 580 m.

This tornado was confirmed to have caused damage to houses, fences, trees, and a warehouse. No injuries were reported.

Essex Mayor Sherry Bondy noted over seven inches of rain accumulated in Harrow as a result of the August 24 storm, and a previous thunderstorm that rolled through the evening before.

The initial storm resulted in power outages across the region, and many experiencing flooded basements. Some streets were closed, or residents were asked to avoid certain areas, due to standing water in some areas.

On August 24, ERCA issued a flood warning for Essex, Kingsville, Leamington, Lakeshore, and Pelee Island, due to the rain. It was extended the following day.

Though the storms created a lot of challenges for residents, Bondy said people stepped up to help each other out. She heard that some residents experienced significant damage to their basements as sump pumps could not keep up with the amount of rain that fell.

Town of Essex administrators will gather to discuss the matter, and plan to reach out to the province to see about possible infrastructure grants, Bondy noted. She added Essex’s CAO Doug Sweet has contacted the Ministry to inquire about the Disaster Recovery Assistance Program.

She said the Town of Essex does the best it can in reaction to a severe weather event with its limited resources, with its staff out all hours of the night trying to mitigate issues.

Hydro One and ELK, she added, did a great job restoring power. At the time, she asked residents at the time to refrain from using water unnecessarily to avoid adding additional pressure on the system.

This was the third natural disaster to occur since February’s ice storm. In late July, the Harrow, Colchester, and Kingsville areas experienced what NTP categorized as a downburst, with a Final EF-Scale Rating of EF1.


Sylene Argent is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for the Essex Free Press.


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