Roof blown off Collingwood service centre
The roof was blown off the Col-Can Service Centre when strong winds hit Collingwood at approximately 3:30 p.m., Monday. J.T. MCVEIGH/POSTMEDIA NETWORK
Severe thunderstorms and high winds ripped through the area Monday afternoon, tearing the roof off an auto repair shop in Collingwood.
Strong winds blew the metal roof and its solar panels clean off the Col-Can Service Centre building on Ronell Crescent and dropped it down in the parking lot.
All staff was accounted for as they had entered the office when the power went out shortly after 3 p.m.
Winds gusting up to 115 kilometres per hour were reported at the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport at approximately 3:30 p.m., according to Environment Canada meteorologist Geoff Coulson.
“The strongest winds seemed to come from northern Lake Huron and the Manitoulin Island area, with the strongest gusts in Collingwood around that time,” Coulson said.
Police officers and fire crews were at the transmission shop and were attempting to determine if there were any injuries sustained by people in the parking lots and surrounding area.
Reports of a gas leak were also being investigated.
Hydro One reported approximately 7,500 customers were without power, making travelling in the area treacherous during the evening rush.
Coulson said because the service centre is near Georgian Bay, it would have felt the full effects of the winds as they broke land.
“There was nothing in its path – no hilly terrain or trees – to break up the wind, so it had a clear path coming off the bay,” he said.
Late Monday afternoon, Coulson said he didn’t have enough information to state a tornado had touched down and said it will be investigated in the coming weeks.
He did suggest, however, that anyone with video of the event and photos of damage — including shingles missing, trees and hydro poles downed — e-mail them to email@example.com.
Coulson said the high winds had pushed the storm towards southeastern Ontario and expected further storms in York, Durham, Kawartha Lakes and Peterborough, Monday evening.
High winds, heavy rain and thunder also blew through Barrie at approximately 3:45 p.m.
The Barrie fire department's Samantha Hoffmann said dispatchers were flooded with calls during the weather event.
The department’s dispatch service oversees calls for 21 area fire departments from Highway 9 to the south, past Town of the Blue Mountains in the Collingwood area to the northwest and up to southern Georgian Bay and Huntsville.
“There were all kinds of calls of wires down, structures down, walls collapsed, roofs removed from buildings,” Hoffmann said.
“We had to call in additional dispatchers because we couldn’t handle the call volume. We have doubled our staffing up in dispatch right now," she added Monday evening. "The deputy chiefs are in and are answering calls as well. It’s extremely busy.”
Collingwood-Blue Mountains OPP Const. Martin Hachey advised motorists to treat intersections without power as four-way stops.
“Crews are out working on clearing roads from tree limbs and downed power lines, and as such, we are asking residents to remain at home for the evening to assist in the clean-up efforts by reducing traffic on area streets,” Hachey said.