NEWS

Southwestern Ontario Faces 'High Impact' Storm Season

03/16/2012 03:13 EDT | Updated 05/16/2012 05:12 EDT

The Southwestern Ontario region is in for a longer-than-normal storm season according to Environment Canada.

Weather services specialist Randy Mawson said the area's storm season could be extended by as many as three weeks due to the early arrival of record-temperatures.

As a result, he said Windsor and Essex County could experience "high-impact weather" for an additional two to three weeks.

"We’re already two weeks ahead. We’re already starting to see some volatile air masses moving up from the United States," Mawson said. "The whole situation we’ve got right now ... is pretty unusual. And we don’t see much of a change for the next six or seven days."

The temperature peaked at a record 24.4 C (76 F) and Environment Canada issued a tornado watch at approximately 5:45 p.m.

"It’s a bit early, but I can’t say it’s the earliest we’ve ever had a tornado watch issued," Mawson said.

In Michigan, a tornado that hit a village northwest of Ann Arbor Thursday evening was packing winds of around 217 km/hr (135 mph). National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Freitag said the twister that hit Dexter was on the ground for about 30 minutes and plowed a path about 16 kilometres (10 miles) miles long.

'Garden variety' thunderstorms

Mawson said tornadoes like the one that touched down in Leamington two years ago are rare.

He estimated that 90 per cent of thunderstorms in Windsor-Essex are "of the garden variety."

"Only two or three per year have the potential for tornadoes," he said. "Anytime you have a severe thunderstorm, there’s always that slight chance it can be upgraded to a tornado."

While the warm weather has stuck around for a week and is expected to do so for another seven days or so, Mawson said it's not time to put away the snow tires and snow shovels.

"We live in a part of the province where weather can be very fickle and Mother Nature can play some dirty tricks on us," he said. "Things could turn cold again and we could get a whack of snow."