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Grindstone Lake Tornado - June 29th, 2003

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Just before supper on June 29th, 2003, a tornado (according to Chris, our local Learning Channel expert) came across the west shore, over the islands and touched down on the penninsula. It was preceded by a continuous roar with branches flying high in the air. It only lasted about 20 seconds but caused thousands of dollars of damage. No one was hurt, but three vehicles were damaged, 4 cottages were badly damaged and one may have to torn down.
The baby at Kinkaid's had just been moved from the crib before a huge tree crashed into the bedroom breaking the crib. Another family had just packed the cars to head back home when it hit. Both of their cars were blocked, one pinned under a tree and the cottage had the roof smashed in with such force that it shifted the cottage off of its foundation while the family was in it seaking protection.
Within 30 minutes all neighbours were out offering assistance and had the main road cleared of trees. Hydro and telephone service was lost to all on the penninsula. Some cottages had power again in about 6 1/2 hours, others took until the next day and some will have to wait until they can fix their cottages and have them pass inspection. The Hydro was on the scene very quickly.
The passing of the tornado by the islands was captured on video by Brian family and numerous pictures were taken, some of which I have added to this page. The resolution of most pictures has been reduced for display on computer monitors. If you would like a copy of the higher res files, please send an e-mail to or click here. Story was covered by the New RO and the Ottawa Sun and was mentioned on The Weather Network on July 2nd.
Video clips: Tornado (1.4Mb)  

For those of you that do not have PowerPoint to view the PowerPoint Slide Show, a free copy of the PowerPoint Viewer (2.8Mb) is available by clicking here.
To download the PowerPoint Slide Show (3Mb), click here.

For those of you that don't want to download big files, here are some individual pictures:
Larry's truck  Car  Jackson's  Kinkaid's  Davidson's  The Crews and a canoe  

Hope I got all of the facts correct,
- Walter Arksey.

Images from the video....

Newspaper Article

Tuesday, July 1, 2003
Cottages blown away
Thousands in damage from apparent tornado

By TOBI COHEN, Ottawa Sun

 Cottagers southwest of Ottawa are spending the Canada Day long weekend picking up the pieces after a tornado ripped through their vacation community Sunday evening.

While Environment Canada has yet to confirm it, residents from the town of Plevna say a twister touched down just before 5 p.m., downing trees and power lines and destroying several cottages and vehicles.

"I saw everything. I was lying on the couch and everything started vibrating in the cottage," said Chris McNamara, who watched as a 30-metre funnel of water seemed to rise from the depths of Grindstone Lake carrying leaves and debris.

"I was shocked. I never saw a tornado in my life. I've seen them on the Learning Channel and the Discovery Channel, but I never saw it like this in my life ... I was scared to death."


McNamara, who drove around to all 38 cottages along the lake to make sure everyone was okay after the storm, which lasted a mere 20 seconds, said there were no injuries but plenty of property damage.

While the twister spared his own cottage despite coming within 300-400 ft. of it, many of his neighbours, he said, were not so lucky.

A tree slammed through one cottage right into a crib where a baby had been sleeping just moments before, while another cottage suffered an estimated $35,000 in damage, he said.

Environment Canada forecaster Camil Laprise said that while there was probably a tornado in the small community about 120 km from Ottawa, he couldn't confirm it with the information he had.

Sunday's stormy weather, he noted, was responsible for another confirmed tornado in Rockford south of Owen Sound and there were also reports of another possible tornado near Windsor.