Yesterday we had a sudden tornado warning, ringing very loudly on my smartphone! It was mid-afternoon and we prepared to hunker down in an interior room, while I checked out the radar to see the location of the rapidly moving thunderstorm cell. It was already east of us, and moving rapid;y further east, an entire line of storms crossing the province.
It had been an unusually warm day here, over 20°C, and I headed downtown for a ride keeping an eye on the radar. But a storm arose out of nothing in a matter of about 3 minutes and it started raining (lightly, thank goodness) just as I was at the farthest point of my walk. I headed back a block and sheltered under the front entrance of the museum. and Mrs. F.G. had to come and pick me up. It was awhile after that that we got the tornado warning.
They've only implemented the emergency warning alerts here over the last two years, and it doesn't happen often. Most of those we get involve the abduction of a child in a marriage dispute somewhere in the Toronto region. So it's unusual to get one for a tornado warning.
In the end there was no tornado reported, just a bad storm with lots of very dark skies. Facebook had lots of pictures of dark shelf clouds rolling in from the west. And friends who live to the east of us reported heavy hail and green skies that are certainly a sign of danger.
Tornados are rare in southern Ontario, but one or two do happen regularly every year. Most are very minor and don't do much damage, but I remember 5 significant tornados in my lifetime - including the one that hit Goderich, damaging my sister's house, which was right in the path of the tornado. It heavily damaged the downtown square (actually an octagon), the salt mine and the grain elevator, and destroyed some homes.
We had actually been in town for our niece's wedding the day before, and their children and partners had stayed the night. So when a giant chestnut tree crashed down in their yard, and windows exploded into the house, they had lots of help to clean it up. They all retreated to the basement during the storm.
So we breathed a sigh of relief, and woke to no apparent damage. The temperature is almost 20° colder, but it's sunny out at the moment.