My second hand experience with the Ontario / Quebec Derecho storm on May 21, 2022

Hello everybody, I wanted to share my (second hand) experience with what happened on Saturday afternoon in my part of the world.

For context here is a news article about it, as well as a video from Ottawa


It’s a little bit passed Hurricane week for our friends in the States, but this sort of event is new for me. There are sometimes tornado.s about an hour north of Toronto, but that’s like 6.5 hours from Montreal, an island, which ends up having much different weather patterns.

I was home in Montreal, my partner was at a LARP game in a campground in eastern Ontario (1.5 hours away). They play in an unused area of the campground which is forested. The parking lot is on a road cut through the forest for power lines to pass through.

This is her story.

They got a Weather Alert on their phones that a storm was coming, and to seek shelter. So they did, mostly in their tents, or somewhat sturdier car canopies. It was less than a minute before trees started falling and they ran out to the road (a highway) and hid on a side of a truck to block some of the wind. The rain started after the dust. The person across the street allowed them into their garage to take shelter.

No one got really hurt, there were a few cuts and bruises, but no concussions. But people had dirt all over their faces and clothes and in their mouth. My partner said, it didn’t really rain, it felt like dust and dirt was going through the air before the hail came. She’s glad she wears glasses and many people complained of having stuff in their eyes after.

The aftermath was that trees had been totally uprooted, branches flew around. Tents were destroyed, cars totalled, branches were sticking out of the ground from having been propelled so hard into it. Trees fell on the road and took down the powerlines, which created a fire where they touched the ground. My partner couldn’t leave as the road was blocked, and couldn’t get to the car because of the live wires near by. She only made it back on Sunday night (more than 24 hours after the event) once the road was cleared by the work crews, and the electrical wired were moved.

I also got a weather warning on my phone later in the evening, but in the end I saw and heard nothing, even if I could be considered to be in a windy street.

81 panicked LARPers 12 tents damaged (flipped / crushed) 4 people hit by trees 3 electrical fires 2 sprained ankles 1 totalled car (other cars got minor damage)

They were lucky to have been a big group. They had plenty of water, and kept a fire going. They have generators, and someone had a fire extinguisher and chainsaw is his truck, which helped to put out the fires and clear some paths. In the end my partner was lucky. Our car is unscathed, our tent is unscathed, and she remained in good spirits throughout.

Here’s some pictures.



You can see the wires touching the ground here and it’s the cross pole that’s on the ground.PXL_20220522_192836797

What I learned. * Put a fire Extinguisher in the car * Put a saw of some sort in the car * Have something to wash yourself with in the car.

I’m adding Derecho to my risk assessment. It’s the first one I or someone close to me has lived through but with climate change, maybe there will be more.


  • Comments (8)

    • 1

      Wow! Thank you for sharing your guy’s experience with this storm. Glad to hear you were mostly unscathed. What I took away from this is to carry some extra glasses and have a way to take out your contact lenses if you wear them. 

      Hope you don’t mind me expanding the title of this post a little to draw more people in to the conversation. 

      • 2

        My first equipment thought was goggles, to protect against the sand and small debris thrown around by wind. Yes, glasses help a little with that, but not nearly enough. Fortunately I already have goggles with me all the time for COVID protection.

        The bigger lesson is that we should take weather alerts seriously. When the weather alert says to seek shelter indoors, it’s not talking about a tent.

      • 1

        I’m with you on that one. It’s also something that’s suggested in The Prepared’s BOB kit (swimming goggles).

        We’d have to get prescription ones though.

      • 2

        No problem at all to expand the title, I’m not too forum savvy anymore 😛

      • 1

        I carry hardware safety glasses, which easily fit over prescription glasses.

      • 1

        You did great! Love the post 🙂

    • 2

      It’s really striking, in the video, how quickly the weather goes from normal to hurricane-like. You can see a wall of storm moving at about 50mph. Imagine being in a car driving, and not knowing that you’re about to be hit by that. Suddenly unable to see 20 feet in front of you due to heavy rain… Suddenly unable to control the vehicle due to heavy wind…

    • 2

      Wow!  Thanks for sharing.  It’s good to be reminded how quickly storms can roll in.  A weather event or fire while camping is something we should all learn from.  Isn’t that the case we’d hit when bugging out?  Storms and fires don’t discriminate and often follow other disasters: floods from rainstorms after hurricanes, fires after earthquakes.  Glad there weren’t serious injuries and all came out with wisdom to share.