On Tuesday, June 13, the Storm Prediction Center had issued a 15% chance of severe thunderstorms for my area of southwestern Ontario, and by June 15 a Slight risk had been issued based on a 15% risk of damaging wind gusts. In the morning of Saturday, June 17, that risk was downgraded to a Marginal risk, but CAPE values were high enough that I started thinking about driving out to see if I could snag some hail.

I called three of my fellow severe weather nuts at Brock University - Dylan, Emily, and Josh, and all three of them agreed to go chasing. We voted on whether to target the London, Ontario area or the Toronto area. I voted for London, but all three of the others voted for Toronto, so I was forced to shut up and jump on the bandwagon. We were headed to Toronto by about 1:30 pm EDT (1730 UTC). Two rounds of storms were forecast to cut through the area - the first from about 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM EDT (1700-1900 UTC) and the second from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM (2230-0130 UTC). We were almost to Toronto just as the first line of storms was moving out of the area and weakening, and missed the first tornado-warned storm of the day, which ended up producing a large cone-shaped funnel which didn't quite touch down, produced by a gorgeous classic supercell complete with classic greenish-aqua clouds.

Ontario Storm 1

This was by far the lowest cloud base I've ever seen in person.

We weren't disappointed for long, though. As we were driving through the Oakville-Mississauga area, an isolated thunderstorm began to cross through at about 3:00 PM EDT (1900 UTC). Although the storm was very low-precipitation, it had an extremely low cloud base - easily the lowest I've ever seen in person, and one of the lowest I've seen period, including on chaser streams. The most impressive thing about this storm, though, was the flickering cloud-to-cloud lightning which I unfortunately didn't capture - Emily was able to record it on her camera, but she hasn't emailed the video to the rest of us yet, so I'm stuck with a boring photo without any lightning for the time being.

After this one non-severe thunderstorm moved out of the area, we were left hanging for a few hours while the next round gathered steam and headed east across Michigan. We did find a little creek in the area to hike in, and saw some wildlife along the way - some white-tailed deer, Cooper's hawks, so many tadpoles in the river itself that the water was almost black, and a cute raccoon to top everything off. The weirdest sight of the day, though, wasn't anything to do with the storms or the wildlife. It was a shopping cart...sitting right in the middle of the river.

Shopping cart

After stopping to pick up some dinner, we got back on the road to the Toronto area to catch the next round of storms. And we were not disappointed. This time, we ended up witnessing a lot more than just a single, isolated thunderstorm. The evening round brought for us not one, but two amazing supercells. The first was just a spectacular experience. The second, though, was a little bit terrifying as well.


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