Environment Canada confirms tornado struck campground north of Montreal


Environment Canada is confirming that a storm that caused considerable damage to a campground north on Montreal was, in fact, a tornado.

A small but intense storm rolled through Saint-Roch-de-l'Achigan, about 50 km north of Montreal, knocking down trees, rooftops and power lines on the roads.

Environment Canada confirmed Friday that the heavy gusts that rocked Saint-Roch-de-l'Achigan around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday had the "typical signature" of a tornado; it's an EF1 tornado, with winds between 135 and 175 kilometres per hour.

Police said one man was hurt on the campground when winds caused the trailer he was in to roll over but his injuries are not life-threatening.

Environment Canada spent the morning investigating whether it was indeed a tornado that hit a campground in the town, forcing residents to run for shelter as the storm blew away two trailers and tore down trees at Camping Horizon.

"Right now we're just in the summer times so it was quite warm, very humid yesterday. Good conditions to create a tornado," said Environment Canada meteorologist Simon Legault.

"It's only around here that we seem to have this kind of damage but other places in the province, in Quebec, we had power outages and damage by the wind but not that kind of intensity."

This is believed to be the first tornado in Quebec this year; there are typically about six or seven.

Camper Herman Van de Kerkhof said he'll have to speak to his insurance company before he's able to drive his camper.

"I'm going to have to do repairs, I'm going to have to contact my insurance company to figure out what I've got to do. I can't actually start driving yet until I'll got the awning taken off and the stabilizers up again," he said.

The storm also hit a pig breeding farm and about 1,900 pigs are on the loose.

The storm caused thousands of people to lose power in the area, and tens of thousands more throughout the province. At 9 a.m., about 20,500 clients across the province remained in the dark, mostly in Monteregie, the Lanaudiere and Outaouais regions, as well as several thousand in the Laurentians and Laval. That number has been dropping throughout the morning, with about 13,500 in the dark as of 11 a.m.

City crews, firefighters and Hydro Quebec were called to clean up the roads overnight.

Camping Horizon owner Alex Caron said he was at a townhall meeting when his mother called to tell him a camper had toppled.

"A lot of fear when it happened -- some people were in their trailers, one gentleman went to the hospital, he was in his trailer when it flipped over," Caron said.

"People were scared, now they're looking at the damages and people are pretty distraught because it's part of their life, these trailers, it becomes their residence in the summer and some people have lost them completely."

The campground includes 180 seasonal sites and 35 weekend sites. Because of the damage, Caron said this weekend's reservations were cancelled.

- With files from The Canadian Press