Violent storm tears through Municipality of Sioux Lookout
Tim Brody - Editor
A State of Emergency has been declared in Sioux Lookout following a violent storm on the evening of June 23, which generated high winds causing significant damage in the Municipality.
Geoff Coulson, Environment Canada Warning Preparedness Meteorologist, said what took place was likely a downburst, powerful winds descending from a storm.
“We would classify it as a microburst if the area damaged was less than four kilometres in diameter. If the damage was more widespread than that, we tend to use the generic term downburst to describe the damage,” he said.
Coulson said the automated weather station at the Sioux Lookout Airport, at the height of the storm, recorded a peak wind gust of about 111 kilometres an hour.
“The Doppler radar from Dryden, which was tracking this storm, had a peak wind, in the low levels, of about 125 kilometres an hour, so it’s quite possible that the gust recorded at the airport itself, around the time of the height of the storm, may have been a little of an underestimate of the total strength of the low level winds of the storm,” he added.
Coulson said the worst winds were generated during the peak of the storm, from about 7:50 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.
Coulson said the automated weather station at the Sioux Lookout Airport recorded 14 millimetres of rain. “Amounts could have been much higher if the storm had been moving somewhat slower,” he informed.
High winds from the storm brought down trees and branches, many onto power lines, buildings and vehicles, and caused damage to homes, buildings and property. Hail was also reported by some local residents. The Municipality of Sioux Lookout informed that there was significant damage to the roof of a local hotel as well as Municipal facilities.
The Municipality also advised that due to storm damage, approximately 90 patients of the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) were displaced from the Sunset Inn and Suites due to the damage to the hotel. The Municipality offered assistance to SLFNHA in securing accommodations for these patients.
No major damage was reported at the airport and service was not interrupted. The Municipality advised that according to airport tenants, some aircraft were damaged in the storm.
Municipal Clerk, Brian P. MacKinnon shared last week, “We are aware of damage to the Sioux Lookout Public Library roof, the Municipal Office roof, and the Recreation Centre/Memorial Arena roof.”
The Municipality of Sioux Lookout advised last Friday that, “damage has been assessed, insurance companies have been contacted, and dedicated workers and volunteers have been busy finding accommodations for those displaced from the Sunset Suites.”
The Municipality will be developing a survey for residents who have experienced loss due to the storm, “which will help determine if the Ministry of Municipal Affairs will activate the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program (DRAO) for Sioux Lookout.”
The Municipality is encouraging everyone who experienced storm damage to take part in this survey when it is released.
The Municipality also advised that Cedar Bay would be closed to everyone except operators and volunteers who maintain the stables. “The cabins and all trails remain closed until further notice. There has been significant damage from fallen trees and the area isn’t safe for the public at this time.”
Sioux Lookout Hydro crews worked non-stop since the storm ended to restore power to area residents.
Three line crews from SynergyNorth, along with various equipment and a forestry crew, were brought in to assist.
The Municipality advised that there were no reported issues with Municipal water or sewer.
“Once again, the Municipality thanks the dedicated staff at Sioux Lookout Hydro, Public Works, the Sioux Lookout Fire Department, the Sioux Lookout OPP, and many volunteers for their hard work and dedication in clearing fallen trees from roads and property and working quickly to restore power to area homes,” the Municipality shared.
Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC) informed in a June 24 news update, that SLMHC services were operating as normal following the June 23 storm.
SLMHC also thanked Sioux Lookout Hydro for their work to restore power throughout the area.
Sioux Lookout Golf and Curling Club (SLGCC) Manager Sheila Suprovich advised that the storm took down about 200 trees at the golf course.
“Staff and volunteers spent all day cleaning up the course, removing trees and debris,” she shared.
The golf course was able to reopen on the afternoon of June 25.
In the days following the storm, social media was full of accounts of people lending a hand to help friends, family, neighbours, perfect strangers, anyone who needed a hand cleaning up following the storm.
The State of Emergency declaration by Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance, in response to the event, allows the Municipality to access provincial funding.
“This funding can help with recovery, should the need arise. Meanwhile, the Municipality has been in contact with our insurance company to advise them of possible claims related to the storm,” the Municipal news release stated.
Power was fully restored to area residents by Sunday evening, with the exception of a few customers that couldn’t be hooked up again because of structural damage to their homes/cottages that require the attention of an electrician.
Coulson shared, “Folks in the weather centre would be interested in hearing (and receiving photos) of people’s damage, maybe if they got hail if they have a rough idea of the size, and any storm reports could be sent by email to [email protected]. If it’s easier, they can Tweet reports to #ONstorm.”