‘Heartbreaking to watch’: tornado hitting near Virden, Man. Leaves ruin in wake


As storm chaser Misheyla Iwasiuk watched a tornado land near Virden, Man. On Friday night, she said she was overcome with emotion.“It was an incredible sight to see,” she says. “Then, unfortunately, we witnessed its pretty serious damage, which was really heartbreaking to see happen. “

Iwasiuk and her fiance Aaron Jayjack settled down about eight to 10 miles east of where the tornado formed and waited for it to touch the ground, said Jayjack, who captured the tornado in video.

Iwasiuk said it didn’t take long for the twister to intensify once they started chasing it.

“We really didn’t need to move; it was coming just for us, so we just sat on the freeway and watched this really big storm cross the freeway behind us, ”she says.

Environment and Climate Change Canada was following a severe thunderstorm that produced a tornado near Scarth, Manitoba, 13 kilometers south of Virden and nearly 275 kilometers west of Winnipeg, at 8 p.m. PT on Friday.

The STARS air ambulance was dispatched to the Virden area shortly after 8:30 p.m., according to its Twitter account. CBC News has contacted STARS for more information, but has yet to receive a response.

Jayjack added that the tornado looked “like a cloud of smoke on the ground” at first – but when condensed, the couple watched the tornado approach a farm and start moving through a nearby field.

After the storm cleared, the couple headed for the house the tornado appeared to have hit. They were the first on the scene, Iwasiuk said, and no one was home.

Vehicle thrown, man trapped inside

The house itself was okay, Jayjack added, “but a lot of the farm equipment was destroyed. ”

Grain elevators were hit and several vehicles were pulled from the road and dumped around the house and into the nearby field, he said.

Social media posts from other storm chasers also indicated vehicles were tossed around by the tornado.

A red Jeep Grand Cherokee was upside down near the farm driveway with someone trapped inside, the couple said.

“We screamed to see if there was anyone there, and that’s when I heard someone was strapped into that vehicle,” Jayjack said, adding that they immediately called 911.

The man had asthma but no other injuries, so Jayjack and Iwasiuk kept him talking until first responders arrived.

Two other vehicles were in the middle of the field next to the farm. At least one of them was a van, Jayjack said.

Iwasiuk was on the phone with 911 and did not take pictures of the scene in the field, “but it didn’t look good from my perspective,” she said.

The storm also destroyed power lines. At one point there were over 500 Manitoba Hydro customers without power, but at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, Hydro’s outage map showed that only five customers near where the tornado hit were. without electricity.

Iwasiuk and Jayjack left the scene once rescuers and Hydro arrived, both of them with heavy hearts.

“As much as it’s amazing to see [a tornado], it’s really hard when there is destruction and damage, and people’s lives have been affected, ”said Iwasiuk. It’s very dark and my thoughts are with everyone. ”

‘A very surreal scene’

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister tweeted on Friday evening, saying his thoughts and prayers are with area residents and emergency responders involved in the recovery effort.

The tornado remained on the ground for about 10 to 15 minutes in all, Jayjack said.

“I saw a lot of tornadoes, and I saw powerful tornadoes, and [this] was a powerful tornado that was very photogenic… you could see it all, ”he said.

“It was an incredible tornado. It was very powerful, very big. Unfortunately, somewhat damaging. “

Iwasiuk said it was the biggest tornado she had ever seen.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if she got a really high rating,” she said. “It was very big and quite violent.

“It was a very surreal scene. I’m still struggling to wrap myself in my brain. ”

Environment and Climate Change Canada no longer has a severe thunderstorm warning in effect in the Virden-Souris region.


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