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Calm before the storm

A picture of a man in Canada calmly mowing his lawn with a menacing tornado swirling in the background has gone viral on social media.

Mr Theunis Wessels was "fully aware" of the twister but "wasn't worried at all", his wife Cecilia, who took the photo, told the BBC.

She said the tornado was about 2km from their house in Three Hills, Alberta - much farther away than it appeared in the photo.

The storm was quickly gone, she added.

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Mrs Wessels told the BBC she was sleeping in the house last Friday - but was woken by her nine-year- old daughter, who was concerned that her father would not abandon his lawn mowing and hide inside from the tornado.

"My daughter was the most upset, saying, 'Mum, what we going to do?' "

Mrs Wessels went outside to check on her husband, who continued mowing. He said that "everything is okay", and looked "calm, in control", she recalled.

She added that he had some knowledge about twisters as he had recently attended a seminar organised by a storm-chasing association.

Many town residents were taking pictures of the tornado, and Mrs Wessels decided to post her photo on Facebook.

She also sent them to her mother in South Africa.

She said her mother was very worried about her son-in-law, asking: "Why are you letting him outside? Please stay safe."

The picture soon began causing a storm on social media.

One user wrote: "This is the craziest picture! LOL. I'm glad that the tornado didn't come down on your house!"

Another described Mrs Wessels' husband as "the Chuck Norris of lawn mowers".

Mrs Wessels said her photo has already been shared 3,500 times in two days, and she has received 256 friend requests.

She said the tornado was moving east - away from the house, and was gone in less than five minutes.

It caused no injuries in the town, and only minor structural damage was reported.

The local authorities issued a tornado warning only after she posted her pictures, Mrs Wessels said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2017, with the headline 'Calm before the storm'. Print Edition | Subscribe