The default weather app on iPhones was showing a tornado in Courtenay on Monday, Jan. 27. Environment Canada assured The Record no such phenomenon occurred. Photo by Jeannie Spencer

Was there a tornado on Vancouver Island Monday?

Suspected phone app glitch gives eerie warning

Was there a tornado in Courtenay on Monday?

If you have an iPhone, your weather app may have indicated as much, but according to Environment Canada, there was no such phenomenon.

The notice on Richard Spencer’s iPhone was enough to raise a few eyebrows, though.

“It was incredibly strange to see that symbol attached to the Courtenay weather,” said Richard’s wife, Jeannie. “It really blew our minds when we saw it on the phone.”

Their daughter, Gelena, pointed it out to them.

“It was my 10-year-old daughter who brought me the phone and said ‘mommy look at this; there’s a tornado.’ It was crazy.”

While Apple and the Weather Channel (the website associated with the default iPhone app) did not immediately answer interview requests, Armel Castellan from Environment Canada said there was no tornado in the area.

“We had gusts to 59 kilometres per hour at 5 p.m., so in a way I am not surprised that the app would show as windy type of symbol, but it just went overboard… obviously a tornado, even an EF-0, would have much higher winds than that,” he said. “We did see a steady 50 kilometres an hour, gusting at times to 60 kilometres an hour, so it was definitely windy.”

Castellan said that while they are rare, funnel clouds can be seen from time to time along the Georgia Strait.

“I’m 99 per cent sure there has never been a tornado [in the Courtenay area] but actually, just a few weeks ago, there was one on the Oregon coast – that was a water spout – and then just over a year ago, Washington state had a tornado categorized as an EF-1… so it’s not impossible, particularly with climate change… it’s not out of the element of possibility,” he said. “We have seen them very close to the Vancouver Island regions recently.”

Castellan said Environment Canada has its own app, available through weather.gc.ca

“It’s still in phase one, so it’s still improving, but so far we are getting a lot of really good feedback,” he said of the app. “It has push notification elements to it, so any time there are alerts to the area you are interested in … if a weather watch or advisory pops up, it will push [a notification] to your phone. So it will prompt you that something high-impact is happening, or about to happen.”

ALSO: Storm causes power outages across Vancouver island



terry.farrell@blackpress.ca

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