Power back on Alvinston

Bluewater Power workers helped get the lights back on in Alvinston by 8 pm Friday.
Bluewater Power workers helped get the lights back on in Alvinston by 8 pm Friday.

Downburst likely cause of damage say Western researchers

There was a cheer in the control room at Bluewater Power and likely in homes around Alvinston around 8 pm Friday as the power came back on in the storm-ravaged community.

A storm battered Alvinston Thursday afternoon around 4:30 pm bringing down dozens of trees and the power lines with them. While neighbours worked together to clear the trees from the roads so emergency crews could get through, Bluewater Power assessed the damage – which Janice McMichael-Dennis called “traumatic” and “devastating.”

Firefighters help clear trees in Alvinston Thursday evening.

McMichael-Dennis said Friday morning it could be Saturday before power returned to the community.

But just after 8 pm,

the lights went back on. “And it came with a big, huge sigh of relief let me tell you. There were cheers of celebration in the control room,” McMichael-Dennis tells The Independent.

Power crews from Chatham-Kent came to Lambton to help. “We focused them in Sarnia given that Jim (Hart and his team) were doing so well in Alvinston and knew he was way ahead of schedule.

“The guys truly never stopped. It was a great example of teamwork. I would have bet money that was not going to happen until the end of day today,” she said Saturday morning.

Meantime, the physical clean up is continuing. Municipal officials said it will take days to clear way the downed trees.

And the Northern Tornadoes Project, which is investigating the cause of the damage, seems to have ruled out a tornado in Alvinston.

“We’ve done preliminary work in that area and it appears the damage was caused by a downburst,” said Dr. David Sills, Executive Director – Northern Tornadoes Project.

Downbursts are powerful winds that descend from a thunderstorm and spread out quickly once they hit the ground, according to the US National Weather Service. These winds can easily cause damage similar to that of a EF0 or even EF1 with winds of up to 180 km/h tornado, and are sometimes misinterpreted as tornadoes.

“We are still receiving reports and have not yet determined the intensity or spatial dimensions. We plan to release results late this weekend or Monday morning.”