A large swath of southern Ontario remains under a severe thunderstorm warnings or watches as a strong storm makes its way across much of the province on Thursday.
Environment Canada also temporarily issued tornado warnings for some regions, which were later downgraded.
Earlier on Thursday, Global News Chief Meteorologist Anthony Farnell said it was shaping up to be “the most widespread severe weather day” in southwestern Ontario so far this season.
Farnell said a system coming in from the western Great Lakes is “packing a bit of a punch” and all of the ingredients were in place for heavy rain, big lightning, damaging winds, large hail and potentially even tornadoes.
While the situation is dynamic and subject to change as the system develops, Farnell said the Windsor, Sarnia, London, Stratford and Goderich areas were expected to be hardest hit. Some large storms are were also possible in the Greater Toronto Aarea around dinnertime, he said.
“You’re not sure until the last minute what’s going to happen or where the worst will be. But I know there are a lot of local storm chasers that are going to be out there trying to capture some tornadoes,” Farnell said.
“And for everybody else, we’ve just got to heed any warnings that come out from Environment Canada.”
Thunderstorm watches and warnings
Environment Canada issued a mix of severe thunderstorm watches and warnings for a large portion of southern Ontario on Thursday.
The advisories have been issued from Windsor through the Peel and York regions, stretching up north of Orillia.
The watches and warnings were also in place from St. Catharines west to Lake Huron.
A mix of severe thunderstorm watches and warnings were also in place for the Owen Sound, Bruce Peninsula and Sauble beach areas.
The advisories were also issued for western Lambton County, including Sarnia; Dunnville-Caledonia-Haldimand; the southern Niagara region, including Niagara Falls; Huntsville-Baysville and the Town of Parry Sound-Rosseau-Killbear Park.
A full list of impacted areas can be found here.
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The national weather agency said impacted regions could see winds gusting to 100 km/h, toonie-sized hail, 30 to 50 millimetres of rainfall and the risk of a tornado Thursday afternoon into the evening.
Tornado warnings downgraded
A handful of tornado warnings were also temporarily issued for the Sarnia, Petrolia, and Western Lambton County, the Woodstock and Oxford County areas, as well as for Barrie, Collingwood and Hillsdale and Orillia, Lagoon City and Washago, but were later downgraded.
Photos and videos shared on social media show damage and downed trees in Sarnia, as well as strong wind and torrential rain in the Barrie area.
Thursday’s storm comes just days after more than 100 homes were damaged when a tornado touched down in an Ottawa suburb.
Ontario’s first recorded tornado of the season was in Talbotville, a village south of London, on June 13 — an unusually late start to the season.
The Northern Tornadoes Project (NTP) says tornadoes in Ontario usually begin in May, sometimes even April or March.