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'Severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes' Environment Canada says as funnel clouds spotted in Fraser Valley

A funnel cloud is pictured over Chilliwack, B.C., on Saturday, June 15. (Courtesy: @Penelope20044/X) A funnel cloud is pictured over Chilliwack, B.C., on Saturday, June 15. (Courtesy: @Penelope20044/X)
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Weather watchers took in some rare sights Saturday as storms brought an array of meteorological phenomena to the Lower Mainland.

In the Fraser Valley, funnel clouds were spotted in the sky between Abbotsford and Chilliwack as a result of a thunderstorm moving over the region.

Environment and Climate Change Canada issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the Fraser Valley at 4 p.m., noting conditions are favourable for the development of storms that could produce strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy rain.

It said funnel clouds may reform over the next several hours.

And in a rare move for a weather alert in southwestern B.C., the agency wrote, “remember, severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes.”

Funnel clouds, which appear as rotating columns coming out of the base of a cloud, become tornadoes if they reach the ground. Tornadoes are extremely rare in B.C., but one did touch down on the University of British Columbia campus in November 2021.

Just before 6 p.m., ECCC issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the western portion of the Fraser Valley, which includes Abbotsford and Mission.

It said the storm was located seven kilometres west of Mission and is moving northeast at 15 km/hr.

“Heavy downpours are likely to cause flash floods and water pooling on roads. Large hail can damage property and cause injury. Strong wind gusts can toss loose objects, damage weak buildings, break branches off trees and overturn large vehicles,” the warning reads.

The alert warns of pea-to-dime-sized hail, which was seen Saturday morning in parts of Metro Vancouver.

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