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Severe thunderstorm, large hail and destructive tornado hit Ottawa, 85 000 homes without power, Canada

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Severe thunderstorms accompanied by large hail and a destructive tornado swept through eastern Ontario and into Quebec during the afternoon hours of September 21, 2018. The storm left widespread power outages, three seriously injured people of which one is in critical condition and more than 60 damaged homes. Several homes were completely destroyed.

The storm produced winds gusts of up to 100 km/h (62 mph), hail the size golf balls and a tornado which affected dozens of buildings, downed trees, and ripped shingles off roofs.

Widespread power outages were reported across a large swath of Ontario.

"We can confirm there are outages to over 85 000 customers across Ottawa as a result of the storm (including damage from winds, lightning and tornado activity). There is significant damage to the grid and all crews are out assessing damage and will establish a priority restoration," Hydro Ottawa said.

The tornado touched down near Dunrobin, Ottawa and tracked east across the Ottawa River to Gatineau, Quebec, leaving a trail of destruction.

"It was one storm that tracked for quite a significant distance," said Peter Kimbell, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada.

Ottawa Paramedics said they responded to 16 tornado-related calls in Dunrobin area, from people trapped in houses and cars, power lines down, trauma from debris to secondary trauma from high winds.

At least three people sustained serious injuries and seven less severe. One person is in critical condition.

About 60 homes in Dunrobin were damaged and several completely destroyed.

"It looks like a massive bomb explosion, covering a wide area. It’s a very tense situation for people living here," Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said.

The twister also caused significant damage in Gatineau, especially along Boulevard Cité-des-Jeunes where a number of buildings had their roofs blown off.

"Based on damage reports, it is likely the tornado will be classified as an EF-2," Kimbell said.

The Ottawa Airport suspended 'ground operations' as a precaution because of lightning in the area.

The airport lost power and is operating on a backup generator, the Ottawa Citizen reports.

Featured image credit: Maryse P

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