Update: pix at the Rain Aviation Blog (via Dave Rooney’s comment).
My home airport, Ottawa Rockcliffe, was hit by severe winds yesterday: I’ve heard from 18-24 airplanes damaged, at least 10 of which are write-offs.
After supper today my spouse and I drove to the airport to check the damage. On the way there, driving along the Rockcliffe Parkway (past the fields where the RCMP Musical Ride horses graze), we could see a zig-zag line of mature trees snapped in half, while trees only metres away had not a twig disturbed.
Volunteers had spent the day clearing up at the airport, but the damage was still apparent: some planes with bent wings, others on their backs, and one smashed up against a fence and flattened so that you could barely tell it had been a plane. Most of the damaged planes were high-wings, which makes sense (if you’ve ever tried to taxi a high-wing plane in strong winds, you know what I’m talking about), but there was also a Cherokee Six on its back, having bent the vertical stab of the Cessna beside it on the way over.
Most planes, however, looked untouched. There were two badly damaged planes within 100 metres of my tie-down spot, but not only did my plane look OK through the fence (except rotated 5-10 degrees in its spot), but a big snow scoop that had been leaning against the box behind my plane hadn’t even tipped over. When I can get into the airport, I’ll check the control surfaces more closely for damage.
Given how specific the damage was — one plane might be totalled, while its neighbour was untouched — I suspect a tornado, though I haven’t seen official confirmation yet. Tornadoes aren’t incredibly common here in Ottawa, but they do happen. My brother, who lives a few kilometres from the airport, lost a window and a few screens to heavy winds. Someone my daughter knows in our neighbourhood had a roof ripped off a house. In my yard, one lawn chair blew over, and … er … that’s it. No branches down from the trees, no garbage cans blown around. Parts of the city lost power. My spouse and I were watching TV in the basement, and never even noticed the storm.