Environment Canada confirms tornado hit Fort Smith

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It’s confirmed: a tornado touched down in Fort Smith on Sunday afternoon, according to Environment Canada.

The tornado moved through the town at around 4 p.m. on Sunday and left considerable damage in its wake, according to Environment Canada’s initial summary of the event. High winds overturned backyard sheds, ripped shingles off of roofs and knocked down trees.

The agency gave the tornado a preliminary rating of EF1, which means it could have reached peak wind speeds of 170 km/h. The rating was based off the initial reports of damage, stated the summary.

An uprooted tree covers a truck following the tornado in Fort Smith on Sunday.
Photo Courtesy of Spencer Porter.

There’s still a possibility the agency will upgrade the damage rating as more information becomes available, it stated.

The tornado was the nation’s fourth ever recorded north of 60, according to Environment Canada Meteorologist Kyle Fougere.

He said it was a landspout tornado, which “spit up very quickly under rapidly growing thunder storms.”

Landspout tornadoes typically have narrow, rope-like funnels and are considerably weaker than supercell tornadoes, he said.

The Northern Tornado Project, a partnership between Environment Canada and Western University, is investigating the incident. The university has sent a representative to the town to assess the damage caused by the storm.

“We don’t get a lot of reports up there,” said Fougere. “There are almost certainly more tornadoes that occur in the Northwest Territories than we receive reports of, just because there’s low population density.”

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