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Tornado Season Is Upon Us

Did you know that Canada has the second highest tornado incidence in the world, second only to the United States? Tornados have also occurred in every Province and Territory and have been reported in every month of the year. How do you anticipate a tornado and prepare for it?

EF5 Tornado in Elie Manitoba, June 22nd 2007

Canada experiences somewhere from 80 and 100 tornados each year. Most occur from April to September, peaking in the hotter summer months of June and July. Most tornados in Canada range in severity from EF0 or EF1. In 2020, there were 77 confirmed tornados in Canada, with only 8 of them being EF2 or EF3. There were no EF 4 or EF5 storms last year, although they are not unheard of. An EF5 tornado hit Manitoba in 2007.

Being Aware

Knowing that a tornado is possible or even occurring in your area is a big step in being prepared. There are a number of warning systems in place. You can sign up for watches and warnings by email at EC ALERT ME. Television and radio stations will also show alerts, and recently Canada has tapped into smart phones to do the same thing, although there are some issues regarding compatibility with certain models of devices.

Weather Radio is still a thing in Canada, despite some transmitters being decommissioned. Most of the now defunct transmitters served heavily populated urban areas, where other means of notification were in place. Having a weather alert radio with SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) may be a good idea. If you are not sure if you are in range of a transmitter you can see if you are covered using this neat map tool.

If you are not covered by a warning system, you will have to “read the skies” as it were. Tornados are born from severe thunderstorms, so when these are occurring in your area, you should keep a close eye on weather conditions. The following signs could indicate a possible tornado:

  • “bump” protruding from thunderclouds, especially if funnel shaped
  • green or yellow hue in the sky or reflected off of the clouds
  • a constant rumbling sound that does not dissipate like thunder
  • extremely dark skies

Preparing for a Tornado

As with any emergency, having basic supplies is the first step. For many preppers, your bug out bag should contain much of what is needed such as drinking water or a quality water filter, non perishable food, sturdy clothing, etc. In addition to this, you may wat to have a supply of tarps for covering damaged roofs, a couple sheets of plywood to cover broken windows, along with the tools and hardware (nails, screws, staples & staple gun) to secure them into place.

Identifying a safe spot in your home to ride out the storm is also a good idea. Choose an interior room, preferably with no windows such as a closet or bathroom on the main floor or in the basement if you have one.

The Aftermath

I’ve said it many times before and will say it again now. One should not prepare for specific scenarios, but instead for a loss of systems of support.

  • Utility Outages – Electrical, land line telephone, and cable television service will likely be lost. Water service may be absent or contaminated and sewer lines could back up. Have a supply of flashlights and batteries on hand as well as a battery operated radio along with alternate ways to cook food, heat your home (provided it is inhabitable) and purify water ( an initial supply of potable water is recommended).
  • Emergency Services – Police, fire, and ambulance services will be overwhelmed. They may not be able to get to you for days if roadways are damaged or blocked by debris. Keep a few fire extinguishers handy and know how and where to turn off a gas supply to your house if you have it. Keep a first aid kit handy and know how to treat minor wounds.
  • Supply shopping may become difficult or impossible either due to widespread power outages or the establishments being damaged or destroyed. Keep a supply of shelf stable groceries on hand for at least a week. Many beginner preparedness sites will recommend 3 days, however that may not be enough. Even when relief organizations get to you, supplies may be limited at the outset and crowds looking for help will be huge.

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