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Timing and location of six tornadoes rare, says Environment Canada

The agency explains that it's rare to see tornadoes in the capital region, especially so close to fall, but it's not uncommon for a storm to produce multiple twisters.

Environment Canada Senior Climatologist David Phillips says the storm, which devastated the Ottawa-Gatineau region, was unique in many ways.

"I think if I was surprised by anything, it was the fact that [the storm] came so late," he told Ottawa Today with Mark Sutcliffe. "I mean, it was the last day of summer. I think there was only one other [storm] that was equal to it, in terms of after September 1 in Canada [history] -- an EF-3 tornado." 

Plus, Phillips said the region is not a hotbed for this kind of weather activity. 

"I mean, if this happened in the Windsor-to-Barrie-area -- little tornado alley near the Great Lakes, which can help in pushing the air up -- but it happened in eastern Ontario and western Quebec," he added.

Phillips explained that the EF-3 tornado which started in Kinburn carved a path 40 km long, and was 1.3 km wide. Some twisters in tornado alley in the US can measure two-to-three kilometres wide, but the climatologist said others can be only as wide as a street, so this EF-3 was definitely on the larger side.

Listen to the full conversation with David Phillips:

As for the outbreak of six twisters, Phillips again said it is a rare occurrence for the capital region, but not necessarily odd to see more than one touch down in a violent storm cell like the one which passed through.

"It does happen sometimes in a large weather system that are just chock full of heat and humidity. It's like boiling water, and you say, 'Well, where is that bubble going to come to the surface,' but there are several bubbles."

One of the biggest outbreaks that Environment Canada has ever recorded was during a storm in Barrie, back in 1985. That system produced 13 tornadoes.

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