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Tornado Outbreak of May 31st, 1985- 30 Years Later


It has been 30 years today since a major tornado outbreak occurred across the states of Ohio, Pensylvania, and New York, and the Canadaian province of Ontario.

There were a total of 42 tornadoes, 14 of them in Ontario. That may not seem like many to residents of the “Tornado Alley” States, but is nearly the number Ontario would usually see in an entire season, so this day still stands out in history, and in the memories of those who were there.

Two of the Ontario tornadoes were rated F4- The Grand Valley Tornado and the Barrie Tornado. There were 12 deaths due to these two, 8 in Barrie and 4 in the Grand Valley area. The Barrie tornado got the most media attention, as it hit a more densely populated area and caused more deaths, injuries, and damage to property. However, the Grand Valley tornado was more significant meteorlogically, as it set a record for the longest tornado track in Canadian history, staying on the ground for 100 km, or 62 miles. (Long track tornadoes are very rare in Canada, especially in Ontario.)

This was an extremely significant meteorological event for Ontario, and Canada in general. It lead to tornado emergency plans being put in place and better coordination of emergency services in general. Although it was by far not the first time there had been large, deadly tornadoes in Ontario, it was the first time that many people had heard of it happening. It just simply was not talked about before that day, and most Ontarians were unaware that tornadoes were even a possibility. In fact, many today still don’t believe it, and most do not believe that there will ever be another tornado like the one that hit Barrie.

There has not been a tornado rated higher than F3/EF3 in Ontario since that day. At least none that have been observed and recorded. Since many tornadoes in Ontario touch down in upopulated areas, it is possible that there have been EF4’s that no one knows about. Meteorologists believe that it is only a matter of time before another significant tornado hits a major city in Ontario.

Here are a few links to articles about the day known as Balck Friday in Candada, and tornadoes in Ontario in general. (The Wikipedia article is seriously flawed and in need of some editing, but it does contain some interesting information, though much of it is outdated.)–Canada_tornado_outbreak