Throughout most of Canada’s inland, southern regions, tornadoes are an all too common occurrence. For those of us who live outside of this tornado zone, this kind of weather can seem exotic—even exciting—something we only see in movies. But for people who live in the Prairies, or in southernmost Ontario or Quebec, they are very real.
In fact, each year on average, approximately 43 tornadoes occur across the Prairies and 17 occur across Ontario and Quebec, with most of these swirling across these regions from June through August.
They’re measured on a Fujita (F-) scale which is based on the damage caused along with estimated wind speed.
And while tornadoes often don’t cause fatalities because they’re speeding across wide open spaces, if a tornado does catch up with you, it can be lethal. They can change direction very suddenly and travel at up to 90 km/hour. They can vary wildly in strength, speed, direction of movement, duration and appearance, which makes them very difficult to forecast.
Although tornadoes are incredible to witness, being outside during a tornado is not a wise idea. Below are a few more basic tips to help you out, in case you are traveling or moving to an area where they are common:
- Most tornadoes develop in the late afternoon and early evening, so in June through August, this is when you should really keep your eyes and ears open.
- Listen to Environment Canada’s Watches and Warnings regularly, especially during the summer. Tornadoes can develop very quickly.
- If you see or hear a tornado, or are warned that one is coming, take shelter as soon as possible. Underground is safest, or the lowest levels of the nearest building. This is where storm cellars come in handy!
- Keep an eye out for flying debris and glass, which are the most dangerous part of tornado weather!
- Try to shield your head with your arms, if you are caught outside. And find a ditch or low-lying area if you can. Get as flat to the ground as possible.
- Close windows and doors in your home, or whatever building you’re taking shelter in, securing them with as much strength as possible.
- After the tornado is over, check yourself and everyone you’re with for injuries, and treat even the most minor cuts and bruises with a first aid kit.
Tornadoes can arrive and leave very quickly—but wreak a lot of havoc—so being able to think on your feet is key. And of course, planning ahead is what will enable you to do so.
So please consider getting prepared today!
Article contributed by Sophie Wooding – Avid gardener and cyclist in Victoria, BC and Content Writer for Frontier.io