Emergency tornado alert wasnt issued to everyone, Ottawans complain – CBC News

Emergency tornado alert wasn\t issued to everyone, Ottawans complain - CBC News
Tornadoes strike east end of Ottawa area
Questions are again being raised about the efficacy of the Alert Ready System after some people in Ottawa didn't receive Sunday's emergency tornado warning on their mobile devices.

Some residents in Orléans, where the tornado caused damage, said they got an emergency message on their phones, while others said they did not.

A group helps clear debris from fallen trees blocking a road in Orleans near Ottawa (Justin Tang- CP)

Lisa Ouimet, who lives on Bilberry Drive in Orléans, knew a tornado was passing overhead from the way her bolted-down gazebo was moving and swelling.

"About 15 minutes later, we went outside because the neighbours had come to the door to make sure that everybody was OK. We all gathered outside to discuss what had just happened, and that's when we got a notification.

“The trees started to bend and the wind howled,” David Robb said. “I didnt know if it was a down draft … or a tornado, but it sure wreaked its vengeance on us in a short period of time.”

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"My next-door neighbour got one on his phone but it was for Gatineau, Que. I never received anything on my phone, my son didn't receive anything. The neighbours across the street, nothing," she said.

While the tornados precise track is still being investigated, many Orléans residents reported seeing it touch down, said ​​​​​​Orléans Coun. Matthew Luloff.

"It happened so fast that we didn't even have time to run to the basement. And then once it was all over, I sat down and … I just started crying because it could have been so much worse than what happened," Ouimet added.

“But regarding its intensity, its precise track, all these different details, well have to be on the ground. And these [questions] will be answered tomorrow morning.”

"I'm not sure how the system works, but something needs to be done. It needs to be fixed."

The weather agency later said around 8 p.m. that a possible tornado had also been spotted near LOrignal, Ont., moving east at about 30 kilometres per hour.

He found out about the tornado when his wife, who was in B.C. at the time, phoned him. A neighbour had called her to tell her about the wind damage on their property, and then she called her husband.

Luloff told CBC Ottawa that hed seen extensive damage to trees and property, particularly in parts of the ward that sit along the Ottawa River. 

The tornado was first spotted in Orléans, about 10 kilometres southeast of the Gatineau airport, at 5:54 p.m. ET. It moved east along the Ottawa River toward Cumberland, with damage spotted as far as Clarence Creek, Ont., according to Environment Canada meteorologist Alexandre Parent.

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While the tornado was already tracking through the area, Environment Canada issued a tornado warning in Gatineau, Que., Papineau, Que., and the United Counties of Prescott-Russell, Ont., at about 6 p.m. An alert was also issued in Lachute, Que., later Sunday evening.

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The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) indicated that might be why some people in the capital didn't receive an alert.

"We've got some preliminary indications that maybe Environment Canada didn't issue an alert. We're sort of understanding when and if Environment Canada would have issued an alert in the Ottawa area," said Noah Moser, a CRTC spokesperson, by phone Monday.

"We don't issue the alerts. If Environment Canada failed to do that, it's something that maybe we have to check with them," added Patricia Valladao, another CRTC spokesperson.

The Alert Ready System was launched in April 2018 to warn Canadians about emergencies such as natural disasters, terrorist threats and Amber Alerts.

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It takes alerts issued by organizations such as Environment Canada and police, and distributes them to wireless devices in the areas covered by the alerts.

Tornadoes hit eastern Ontario and western Quebec

The company Pelmorex, which operates the technical backbone of the Alert Ready System, wrote in an emailed statement Monday it's received reports that some people in the areas where tornado warnings were issued — Gatineau, Papineau, Lachute, and the United Counties of Prescott-Russell, Ont. — didn't receive the alert.

"We, along with our Alert Ready partners, are in the process of reviewing and validating these identified reports," the statement reads.

Ottawa has been hit with another tornado, just eight months after a series of powerful twisters wreaked havoc across the region.

The company also said that not all mobile devices are guaranteed to receive alerts. In order for the alerts to work, a device must:

The CBC also indicated that the weather systems moving through the area provided the perfect recipe for this kind of weather event. It was cool early in the day but then warmed up radically later in the day, jumping from 12°C or 13°C to 21°C right before the tornado began.

About 98.5 per cent of Canadians had access to LTE networks in 2016, according to the CRTC's 2018 communications monitoring report.

Environment Canada has indicated that this is just a summary of notable events and they will likely do a full report once a damage surveyor has assessed the noted areas when they go out to investigate today. 

It's not the first time people in Ottawa have complained about spotty alert system service. Less than a year ago, when  two tornadoes touched down in Ottawa, some people complained they didn't receive the emergency alert.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

@BlacksWeather Ottawa Tornado! Captured by my husband Joshua Bastian. Ek! He was even hit by a mattress. @CBCOttawa @cbcotttraffic @CBCAlerts @ctvottawa @CTVOttMornLive pic.twitter.com/F1j2CIsHDP

Tornadoes strike east end of Ottawa area, Gatineau

Tornado warnings have been lifted for parts of Quebec including Gatineau, as well Ontario towns Prescott and Russell, according to Environment Canada.

The national weather agency had issued the warnings on Sunday evening after a small but powerful storm had produced damaging winds, hail and intense rainfall.

Several roads in the Orleans area were closed due to the extensive damage. There were also reports of a funnel in the Rockland area later on in the evening, closer to 7 PM.

Tornado warning issued for Ottawa region: Environment Canada

The wind had torn off roofs and uprooted trees in Ottawas east end with strewn debris forcing the closure of several streets, including a major highway. But by 9 p.m., they were all reopened.

Despite the damage to buildings, Ottawa police said there are "there are no known injuries at this time.

Ottawa Fire Services fire prevention and investigations officer Marc Messier lives in the area and told CTV News Channel, the tornado lasted for a long time and we were just hoping that everybody in the east was OK.

He said his sons neighbouhood was likely hit the worst. Two or three homes over from his place on his entire street had suffered quite a bit of damage, he said.

Knowing my family is in the area strikes a few nerves, he admitted. Everyone seemed to be distraught with the amount of damage but there was a sigh of relief that it couldve been a lot worse.

The tornado sightings take place several months after a series of tornadoes ripped through the Ottawa-Gatineau region last fall. Those tornados flattened nieghbourhoods and caused severe damage to the regions power grid.

We still have Septembers incident in our minds, Messier said. This isnt something we see often in the Ottawa area and unfortunately it seems to be something becoming more frequent.

At around, 6:35 p.m., a tornado was spotted near Saint-Pascal-Baylon, Ont. moving east at 40 km/h, with another viewer seeing a tornado off the Ottawa River. A second Environment Canada press release states that Ontario towns, Rockland, Clarence and Wendover were also being affected.

More viewer video of what may have been a tornado touching down in East Ottawa pic.twitter.com/aXyQz0T4ci

At 6:07pm EDT a confirmed tornado was east of Gatineau moving east. Tornado Warning place. TAKE COVER NOW! #ONstorm

The City is aware there has been a weather incident in the east end. We are currently investigating on-site

Tornado warnings are being issued for western Quebec including Gatineau, as well Ontario towns Prescott and Russell, according to Environment Canada. (Mike Lagace) ‏