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‘It was getting pretty hairy out’: Barn roof torn off during storm in Wellington County

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A farmer in Wellington County is cleaning up after the roof of his chicken and turkey barn was torn off in a storm Monday night.

The farmer declined an interview, but told CTV News no animals or people were hurt. He said luckily insurance should be able to cover the damage and operations can continue running as normal.

"Everyone's safe, so that's the big thing," Bailey Allard, a storm chaser said.

Bailey Allard was chasing the storm around the dinner hour on Monday, when she got a call about the barn on a farm where her boyfriend rents. She said it was pretty hard to see anything in the height of the weather.

"It was getting pretty hairy out, and then it was pretty hard to see anything because there was so much rain and hail," Allard said. "It was a little close to home this time for sure.”

Photo of a spring storm in Wellington County on the evening of May 13, 2024. (Source: Bailey Allard)Environment Canada issued a warning for Wellington County North, Arthur and Mount Forest residents to take cover on Monday. It warned of strong winds, a chance for flash floods and large hail.

Investigators with the Northern Tornadoes Project at Western University are now trying to determine exactly what caused the damage.

"Was it a tornado? Was it a downburst, which a downburst is just a type of straight line wind that can also cause damage similar to a tornado? We'll also determine what the estimated wind speeds were," said Aaron Jaffe, engineering researcher with the Northern Tornadoes Project.

The project aims to document data for all tornadoes and downbursts in Canada. The data is meant to help predict future events, observe trends from climate change and improve designs to prevent similar damage from similar events.

"The structure here had one side that was very open to the west, which is very likely where the wind came from. So of all the structures in the property to be damaged, it's not surprising that, that one was the one that got destroyed," Jaffe said. "This barn happened to have a large opening to the west, whereas like the other structures in the area don't. So factors like that can influence one thing getting damaged and the structure right beside it having no damage.”

Investigators say this type of damage is not necessarily happening more frequently, but have noticed it's occurring earlier in the year.

"In past years, it's rare for us to have a ground survey before late May. This year, this is already the third ground survey we've done. So we surveyed a tornado in southwestern Ontario that happened back in March. We surveyed a couple of down bursts that happened a couple of weeks ago. And then we have this one," Jaffe said. "We're training interns right now to come out and help with these surveys. They're not even trained yet. Usually they have been trained by the time these happen. So, it's a little bit earlier in the year, this year that things are kicking off. But too early to say whether that's some kind of growing trend or just an outlier."

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