Point Alexander and Area News

2005 June 30

Microburst Strikes Laurentian Hills

On 2005 June 28, a microburst associated with a line of thunderstorms struck in the Town of Laurentian Hills, Ontario, causing extensive tree damage in the vicinity of the Wylie and Bronson Road intersection. A state of emergency was declared. With external assistance, including a contingent of soldiers from Canadian Forcers Base Petawawa, the roads were cleared and power restored. An extensive cleanup remains however.

On late Tuesday afternoon, 2005 June 28, a line of thunderstorms passed through the upper Ottawa Valley. The day had been hot and humid, as had the previous days. In Point Alexander, the storms were strong -- high winds, heavy rain and lots of thunder and lightning -- but did not seem exceptionally so. That the power went off was not surprising. Electricity was restored in about three hours in Point Alexander and in somewhat over six hours in Deep River.

But out the Wylie Road, the situation was much more serious. Here the storms were accompanied by a microburst. A microburst is a localized downdraft, which can have winds in the 100 to 200 km/hr range. The winds are linear, that is, they have a consistent direction, whereas with a tornado, there is a twisting component. A microburst lays the trees down in parallel, whereas a tornado scatters them in all directions.

storm damage along Bronson Road

Flattened trees along the Bronson Road. Linear winds from left to right.

In the vicinity of the intersection of the Bronson and Wylie Roads, hundreds of trees were flattened, completely burying the roads, bringing down power lines, and isolating several homes. Since a timely response to such massive destruction was beyond the capabilities of a small community like Laurentian Hills, a state of emergency was declared. This facilitated the marshalling of outside assistance.

I am not aware of all of the sources of outside assistance, but certainly important contributions were made by the Town of Deep River and soldiers from Canadian Forces Base Petawawa.

storm damage along Bronson Road

Bronson Road

storm damage along Bronson Road

Bronson Road

storm damage along Wylie Road

Wylie Road

Restringing hydro lines along the Wylie Road

Restringing of power lines along the Wylie Road by Hydro One crews. (Hydro One is the agency responsible for distributing electricity in Ontario.)
Photo by Joan Kalechstein

While the roads have been cleared and power restored, a massive cleanup remains. Much of the damage is in the bush, but this still needs to be cleaned up so as to reduce the future fire danger.

Several years ago (1999, I think) a somewhat similar storm hit the Petawawa area. That storm resulted in a string of damaged areas from Lake Traverse to McManus Lake and then down the Petawawa River to the Town of Petawawa. It will be interesting to learn whether this recent storm also has a string of damage stretching back into Algonquin park.