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As tornadoes touched down in Windsor-Essex, an Ontario storm chaser’s baby entered the world

Craig and Gina Dunmore are proud of their new daughter, Cecelia May Dunmore, who was born at 10:40 p.m. ET on Aug. 24 as multiple tornadoes were confirmed in Windsor-Essex, Ont., and Windsor Regional Hospital was dealing with a power outage.

'She's our little tornado baby,' says mom Gina Dunmore, who accompanies husband Craig on chases

The mother and father of a newborn baby hold their child in their home.

Essex residents Craig and Gina Dunmore enjoy a good storm — but they didn't expect their first child to be born during actual tornado conditions in the southwestern Ontario region.

Cecelia May Dunmore entered the world at 10:40 p.m. ET on Aug. 24 — the same time frame that at least two tornadoes touched down in Windsor and Tecumseh, according to Northern Tornadoes Project researchers.

The wild weather conditions caused a momentary power outage at Windsor Regional Hospital's Met Campus, where Gina was in labour.

"When it was time to deliver [Cecelia], that's when the tornado warnings went off," Gina said. "I was a little nervous. But I was in good hands."

Craig said he tried to devote his attention to his wife and the birth of their daughter. But there was no ignoring the phone alert issued for the Windsor-Essex region by Environment Canada's tornado warning system.

"We were getting really close to the time to push, and the storm was just rolling in. We had the window [shades] open and we could see the lightning," Craig said.

"Everyone's phones started going berserk with the tornado warnings coming in, and they told Gina to start pushing."

Thankfully, the paths of the two confirmed tornadoes were some distance from the Met Campus of Windsor Regional Hospital.

Damage analysis by the Northern Tornadoes Project indicates an EF-0 twister with 125 km/h winds started in Windsor's west end and moved into LaSalle, while an EF-1 twister with 145 km/h winds moved from Tecumseh to Lakeshore.

WATCH | Storm damage in Windsor following tornado warning:

People in Windsor are dealing with crushed vehicles and trees on homes

5 days ago

Duration 1:06

People are dealing with storm damage in Windsor as city staff and contractors work to clear up the damage. Lucas Vollans and Kim Russo describe what they're dealing with today.

Delivery of Cecelia was relatively quick with no complications, except for one: Clocks were incorrectly reading 12:01 a.m. due to the blackout.

"Everyone in the delivery room was laughing," Gina said. "No one expected that to happen — all those things at the same time."

The circumstances of Cecelia's birth were particularly ironic considering Craig's favourite pastime: He's been a storm chaser since he was a teenager.

A power-line technician by trade, Craig is a member of Windsor Essex Storm and Environment Enthusiasts (WE SEE) — a regional group of hobbyists who pursue weather phenomena such as extreme wind events.

"Just for the excitement of it. I like going out there and seeing what Mother Nature has to offer. Seeing the chaos," Craig explained.

Craig reckons his adventures have taken him about a kilometre away from an active tornado path. He's passionate about photographing turbulent skies, especially lightning.

"He wants to get those bolt shots," Gina said.

Gina has accompanied Craig on some of his weather-related escapades. The couple say they'd like to bring Cecelia on a storm chase, once she's old enough.

Until then, they intend to remind her of the story of her birth over and over again.

"She's our little tornado baby," Craig said proudly. "She'll be hearing it every birthday. She's going to get tired of the story."

Gina has started outfitting Cecelia with tornado-themed clothing.

"She has lots of onesies with tornadoes on them already."

But Gina believes making Cecelia familiar with tornadoes isn't just about being cute. She hopes doing so will "really instil an appreciation for nature and a respect for nature, to learn to be part of the environment, and to care for it."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dalson Chen is a video journalist at CBC Windsor. He is a graduate of the University of Guelph and Ryerson University (Toronto Metropolitan University). His past areas of coverage have included arts, crime, courts, municipal affairs, and human interest. He can be reached via dalson.chen@cbc.ca.

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