View Full Version : May.12, 2000 - Tornadic storms produce damaging microburst and possible tornado

08-28-2009, 05:41 PM
The 12th of May, 2000 started off with early morning thunderstorms as a warm front pushed through (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/doppler0727.gif) [2] (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/doppler0746.gif)[3] (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/hires-sat-0729.jpg)around 7:30am. 2 people in an automobile garage were struck by lightning (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/lightning0725.gif) in St. Catharines during this storm [put picture here]. The thunder and rain died down by noon and the day became hot and hazy. By 9:30 pm the lightning started up again off in the distance as Toronto area was hit (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/doppler2150.gif) by the 2nd group of storms, more powerful than the ones earlier in the day. These severe storms triggered severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings in the U.S. as they moved across from east to west, first entering Southern Ontario around Windsor, and to the north around Grey/Bruce counties. CAPE (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/cape.gif)[2] (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/cape2.gif) values and Lift (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/lift.gif)[2] (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/lift2.gif) values were very impressive, as was the 0Z May13 Sounding (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/sounding.gif). The Weather Network did a great job continually updating (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/twn01.gif) us with warnings and precautionary measures.
While the storm approached from the northwest it produced a great display of anvil crawlers, cloud-to-cloud (CC) and cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning over the lake [23:14] (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/lightning-2315.gif)[23:50] (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/lightning2350.gif)[01:28] (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/lightning-may13-0128.gif) . Rain and winds here in St. Catharines were moderate, but to the east in Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) the storm was very intense. A tornado warning (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/tornadowarning.html) was issued, and a tornado was reported by many people to Niagara Regional Police (NRP) to be on the ground around the rural area of Lakeshore and Steward roads in NOTL. Further reports of funnel sightings over the lake were received the following day. One of the most exciting sights was the rapid movement and expansion of scud clouds overhead. The night sky background was pitch black so the scuds appeared white right above your head, and with the constant flashes of lightning you could see them expand and move in to each other right before your eyes. I captured some amazing footage of one rapidly growing scud shooting straight up then curling around into itself again as it pulled in the scud behind it.
As for the damage in NOTL, the most intense area of damage was 5 miles away from the reported tornado, directly in the "Olde Town" (tourist area) of NOTL. I drove out at 6:30am the next morning (Saturday, the 13th) and could see no signs of damage where the tornado was reported, although that area was composed of empty farm fields as the crops had not yet begun to grow. As I headed in towards the town, straight-line wind damage became apparant with scattered trees down, a tipped trailer, a stop sign ripped from its post, and debris in fields, although these were scattered/isolated incidents. I entered the Olde Town around 7:30am and there was an area of maybe 8 blocks where the damage was very intense (pictures listed below). Large mature trees uprooted, roofs ripped from buildings, houses with large trees on them, parts of house structures ripped and thrown considerable distances. The entire townsfolk were out wandering the streets with their morning coffees and their cameras, talking to each other over the sounds of portable electric generators and chainsaws. The Hydro company had many of the roads blocked off as they worked to move downed power lines, transformers, and hydro poles off the streets. To date this is the most intense damage I've seen in the area. Winds were estimated at over 120km/hr by Environment Canada. E.C. confirmed the main damage area was caused by straight line winds, and the reported tornado has been left unconfirmed as it (possibly) occurred over empty farm land and there was no way to determine wind direction.
Watches/Warnings (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/warnings.txt)
10:45pm Radar (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/summary-2315.gif)
11:15pm Radar (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/summary2359.gif)
00:15am Radar (http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/summary-1250.gif)

http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/paper01.jpg http://www.ontariostorms.com/2000/may/12/paper02.jpg Damage photos from "Olde Town" Niagara-on-the-Lake. Click thumbnail for full-size image:
(Please take the time to view them - they took me ages to scan/touch-up/re-size/post! )
NOTE: all fallen trees and branches were on the ground pointing to the south (giving evidence of straight line winds). There were numerous reports to the NRP of a tornado but the location of that was 4-5 miles to the WSW of the pictures below and damage pictures were not possible because if it did occur, the given location was open farmland composed of empty soil. Thus, there was no trees/vegetation to help in observing wind direction.