FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Environment Canada says they believe a very weak tornado touched down in Fort St. John Friday night.
Doug Lundquist with Environment Canada says the tornado would have only been rated an EF0 or EF1, the lowest rating for a tornado.
Lundquist, who grew up in the Alberta Peace and has family in Fort St. John, says it is extremely rare for a storm to produce a tornado in the B.C. Peace.
Officials will still be reviewing evidence to confirm more details about the storm. Videos, pictures and eyewitnesses accounts, and the type of damage, make them believe this was a tornado.
A weather warning was issued for the South Peace, and at first, the storm looked like it was starting to weaken, but changed as it began to move closer to Fort St. John. At 7:45 pm, Environment Canada issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for the North Peace.
Early reports suggested as many as 20,000 to 25,000 lightning strikes were recorded in the B.C. Peace from the storm.
Last nights storm is now headed towards Fort Nelson. That region won’t experience severe thunderstorms, but will receive heavy rain. Rain will continue over northeast BC Saturday due an easterly flow of moist air. The rain will be heavy at times near the eastern slopes of the Rockies resulting in further amounts of up to 30 mm.
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Two neighbourhoods suffered the most damage. Surerus Ball Diamonds was the first area to be hit, and then the storm and tornado moved onto the Countryview Estates area (114a Avenue and 100 street).
Two homes near Surerus Ball Diamonds received the most damage in the community, with one house being damaged from debris. The second home had most of its roof ripped off by the strong winds.
At least eight people are currently receiving support from Emergency Support Services due to the storm’s damage.
In the Countryveiw Estates area, one home lost most of its roof, while others lost shingles. Councillor Trevor Bolin lives along 114a Avenue and says he has never seen anything like it. “My youngest son yelled I think there’s a tornado. I said we don’t get tornado’s here.”
Bolin says the storm lasted only six minutes and even caused his windows to bend inside.
“All the neighbours came together and returned fence panels, shingles to those that own them. The Fire Department and RCMP were fast to respond and provide assistance. The neighbourhood came together to help clean up.”
If you have any photos or video to share of Friday’s storm, email [email protected]