Police in Barrie say several people have been hurt in a tornado that caused “catastrophic” damage to homes and businesses on Thursday afternoon.
Barrie Police spokesperson Peter Leon said they are currently being assisted by Ontario Province Police (OPP), going door-to-door and checking for any injuries.
There is no word yet on how many people were affected and no deaths have been reported at this point.
He says some homes have sustained major damage, and there have been power outages and damage to some gas lines.
Leon is urging people to stay away from the region, adding that the main area stuck was near Mapleview Drive East and Prince William Way where there is significant development underway, including a high school being built in the location.
The weather alerts that were in place for York Region are now over, though York-Durham does remain under a severe thunderstorm warning.
A tornado warning is no longer in effect for Peterborough-Kawartha Lakes.
Some callers into the 680 NEWS newsroom reported damage in Barrie with homes affected.
Power outages are also being reported in parts of Barrie with police saying officers responded to “multiple reports of damage in southeast Barrie.”
Geoff Coulson, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, says images and video posted to social media – which show heavy damage to buildings in the city’s south end – have helped confirm the storm was indeed a tornado.
He says the tornado touched down around 2:30 p.m. today, minutes after Environment Canada upgraded its tornado watch for the area to a warning.
“This is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation. Take cover immediately, if threatening weather approaches,” Environment Canada said at the time tornado warnings were issued.
“If you hear a roaring sound or see a funnel cloud, swirling debris near the ground, flying debris, or any threatening weather approaching, take shelter immediately.”
People in Barrie have shared photos and videos of the destruction in the aftermath of the tornado, showing homes with their roofs partially torn off, overturned vehicles and debris littering the streets in parts of the city north of Toronto.
“My thoughts are with everyone in Barrie and Innisfil affected by the severe weather today,” tweeted Premier Doug Ford.
“A big thank you to our first responders that are currently on the ground helping the situation. Please stay safe everyone!”
Toronto and Halton-Peel are no longer under any weather warnings though the risk of strong thunderstorms is possible this evening and through the night. A mix of sun and clouds is expected in the city on Friday.
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