Nerves were frayed across much of southern Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan on Monday night as a large band of severe weather spawned funnel clouds and produced heavy rain and damaging hail.
Environment Canada issued several tornado alerts throughout the evening, saying it had received reports of tornadoes touching down near Tilston and Virden in Manitoba, as well as rotating wall clouds and funnel clouds in southeastern Saskatchewan.
Dozens of photos and videos posted to Twitter showed what appeared to be twisters touching to the ground. In some, the asphalt looked to have been ripped from the road along a two-lane highway near Pierson, Man., and there were reports of grain bins being found on rural roads.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage, but power lines were brought down and some farm buildings appear to have been hit.
In one alert, Environment Canada said the tornado had become rainwrapped and hard to see, calling that “a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation.”
Television programming in Manitoba was regularly interrupted by emergency alerts warning of tornadoes moving toward small communities and at one point, toward the town of Virden, which has a population of about 3,000.
A town Twitter feed reported that local RCMP were pulling vehicles off the road and instructing drivers to take shelter, and others reported officers were telling people inside at least one convenience store to stay put until the storm passed.
“Virden radar shows it is almost here,” Mayor Jeff McConnell tweeted at one point. “Take cover now please! I want to see you in the morning.”
Power was knocked out in the town for a time and near midnight, Environment Canada confirmed that a tornado had hit an area northeast of the community.
Regina, meanwhile was deluged with 73 millimetres of rain, which caused localized flash flooding in some streets.