Funnel cloud spotted in area

Duane Hicks

Amidst the rain and thunderstorms yesterday evening, there were reports of a possible funnel cloud or tornado in Rainy River District.
OPP Cst. Anne McCoy said this morning that around 6:15 p.m., Rainy River District OPP received a report of a “tornado” three km south of Highway 600 near Birch Road in Lake of the Woods Township.
Police attended the area and observed some minor damage—trees blown down—at Birch Road and Highway 619.
However, no funnel cloud was observed by the OPP, noted Cst. McCoy.
(Funnel clouds are considered tornadoes that do not have a visible portion reaching the ground. If a funnel cloud touches the ground, it becomes a tornado).
Fort Frances Fire Chief Frank Sheppard said the OPP reported severe storm activity to the fire department.
The fire department tracked the progress of the storm cell using Doppler radar, observing that it tracked eastward from the Stratton area to north of Emo.
It then moved north of Fort Frances before apparently dissipating as it moved closer to Rainy Lake.
The situation had “settled out” by about 8 p.m., noted Chief Sheppard, adding it
ended up being unnecessary to activate the emergency sirens in town.
“We watch those ones pretty close,” Chief Sheppard stressed. “We were probably close to hitting the sirens to provide notice.”
He added the fire department also had contacted local radio station, 93.1 The Border, to be on stand-by if an emergency broadcast was needed.
“There really is a balancing act here,” Chief Sheppard remarked. “You’re looking at the risk that you run by not by not activating a siren versus the over-activation of them.
“You do them too much, people become complacent.
“This one here, it looked [like] the storm cell itself was moving to the north,” he added. “I am not even sure if there was a confirmed touch down.”
Chief Sheppard said he’s not aware of any reports of property damage or injuries.