Environment Canada investigators are in northern New Brunswick today, taking a closer look at the damage left behind by Thursday’s severe thunderstorm and at videos of what could be “tornadic activity.”
Claude Côté, a warning preparedness meteorologist in New Brunswick, said Friday morning there are unconfirmed reports of tornadoes and according to specialists in Ontario, wind gusts may have reached 190 kilometres an hour.
“So this is comparable to hurricane-force winds or also of a … tornado,” he said.
Marie-Josée Chiasson, the volunteer fire chief in Miscou, was working at the Shippagan Dollar Store when the storm hit on Thursday between 8 and 9 p.m.
“When it hit, let me tell you, it hit quite hard — there was hail hitting in the windows and suddenly — boom — the power went out,” Chiasson told Information Morning Moncton.
“You could see the black sky. It was like, ‘Oh gosh, that doesn’t look too good.'”
At its peak, the storm knocked out electricity to nearly 6,000 homes and businesses, and the strong winds toppled at least 15 power poles in the Lamèque, Shippagan and Caraquet areas, according to the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization.
Record-setting heat contributing factor
CBC meteorologist Brennan Allen said after looking on Thursday evening at the radar images leading up to the storm, he could see what is known as a “bow echo” heading toward the area.
Allen explained this usually indicates an intense thunderstorm with a strong down draft that brings winds from the middle of the atmosphere, 5,000 to 10,000 feet up, directly to the ground.
“If you bring those winds directly to the surface without giving them a chance to really weaken … you can get very intense wind gusts,” Allen said.
“And based on what I’m seeing that’s likely what happened yesterday across northern New Brunswick.”