CLOSE CALL ON PATIO
Dominion House Tavern owner Billie Jo Zacher surveys the damage from Monday night’s storm that caused two large trees to fall onto the tavern’s volleyball courts, as well as a large branch to drop onto the patio where patrons had been sitting.
Several people narrowly avoided serious injury Monday when a powerful storm ripped a 120-yearold tree out of the ground at a west end bar, tossed another tree onto the patio and sent a picnic table flying.
Dominion House co-owner Billie Jo Zacher said her staff helped avoid a potential tragedy after sensing the weather was turning ugly and moving customers inside — about two minutes before the destruction hit.
“The one big tree, it’s like 120 years old, it’s pulled right out from the ground,” Zacher said Tuesday. ‘The roots are huge. That’s on the volleyball courts. So the volleyball courts are completely damaged. Then another huge tree fell onto the top layer of the patio. Busted all the railings. The tables are everywhere. Chairs are everywhere. Tree branches everywhere. A picnic table is underneath one of trees. I’m assuming the wind picked it up and threw it there.”
Peter Kimbell, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, said a strong storm cell hit the west side of Windsor around 9 p.m. It hovered there a couple minutes before moving east across the rest of the city. It was not a tornado, he said.
“It’s pretty intense, yes, but it does not exhibit any kind of rotation,” said Kimbell. “So I would conclude that it was a strong gust of wind that could have been a downburst and would have been responsible for causing the damage.”
Zacher had arrived just before 9 p.m. and was sitting out front.
“When I was driving there it was crazy raining, heavy winds,” she said. “The sky was like pink, green, grey. Then I pulled up out front and it stopped raining. It just went calm. I thought, ‘Oh, OK, it’s over.’ ”
One of her employees came running around the corner. Things weren’t so calm on the other side of the building.
“They thought we were hit with a tornado because of all the damage,” said Zacher.
Luckily, she said, her employees had brought everyone inside. Customers were on the patio watching sports on the bar’s new 120-inch projection screen — now destroyed — that was installed two days earlier.
“That staff decided that something was going to happen just from the clouds and the wind,” said Zacher.
“The weather was changing too much. It was picking up wind. So they got everybody inside to be safe. When they came back out, everything was down.”
After getting over the shock of what had just happened, they checked the security cameras.
“From the time that they left the patio and went in, it was two minutes to when the tree fell on the patio where the customers had been sitting,” said Zacher. “So I was really thankful and proud that they took control like that.”
A fallen tree is shown Tuesday in the 3100 block of Sandwich Street after a Monday storm caused it to crash into the volleyball courts and patio at the Dominion House Tavern. The tree is “like 120 years old, it’s pulled right out from the ground,” said bar co-owner Billie Jo Zacher.
A large branch sits on the patio on Tuesday where patrons had been sitting Monday night just before a tree crashed down after a strong storm.