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How To Prepare For a Tornado in Alberta

Some may think that Alberta residents are unlikely to ever experience a Tornado. This unfortunately is not the case.

Not too long ago in 1987, one of Canada’s strongest tornadoes, an F4 ripped through the eastern part of Edmonton, Alberta and parts of neighboring Strathcona County. This tornado left 27 dead, and 253 injured. It was the 2nd deadliest tornado in Canadian history.

As we have seen over recent years, our weather patterns are changing. If we are unfortunate and experience a tornado of this magnitude again, let’s make sure we are prepared!

How do I find out about a Tornado Watch or Warning in Alberta?

When a Tornado is a threat to our safety, Environment Canada is responsible for warning the public. It is important to know how they do this.

Environment Canada will issue tornado warnings through the radio, television, the internet, as well as through its weather phone lines. They recommend tuning into one of these if you live in a high risk area for Tornadoes or experiencing a severe thunderstorm.

What is the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning?

During a tornado watch, Alberta residents should begin monitoring the weather as conditions in the atmosphere are primed for the development of serious thunderstorms and potentially tornadoes.

Changes in wind speed and direction with height is known as a high wind shear. This mixed with unstable air, can create tornadoes.

During a tornado warning, Alberta citizens should be aware that a tornado is likely to occur, and it either happening now or likely to happen soon.

Tornado Warning Signs for Alberta

Government of Canada suggests the following warning signs of a potential tornado:

• Severe thunderstorms, with frequent thunder and lightning
• A sky that is abnormally dark, with clouds that are unusual looking  e.g yellow or green
• A whistling sound in the distance (or a rumbling)
• Heavy rain, hail and a funnel cloud at the bottom of a thundercloud

Tornado Safety Tips: Alberta Residents

• Know when Tornadoes are most common. In Alberta, we see Tornadoes most frequently in June
• Have an Emergency Plan which includes a tornado safety kit as well as a designated shelter area, backup modes of communication, and a designated meeting place if you and your family members are separated during the event.
• Have a Tornado Preparedness Kit. List all items of a checklist so you can be sure of the kit’s contents. Visit this link for a 72-hour Emergency Preparedness Kit.

Tornado Safety Procedures: What To Do During a Tornado

The Government of Canada has prepared a helpful list of what to do in the event of a tornado, depending on where you are. To see this resource, go here.

Tornado Survival Tips – All Cases

• Stay close to the ground and protect your head from flying debris.
• Do not follow a tornado, their path can change quickly.
• A tornado can look like it is stationary, however, it’s only it’s appearance. A tornado is moving, and can be moving towards you.

For more information on tornadoes in Alberta and how to prepare for them, please visit the following resources:

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