Be Prepared: Tornadoes and Extreme Winds

Tornado or Extreme Winds

A tornado is a violent rotating column of air extending between a thundercloud and the ground and can reach speeds of up to 400 kilometres per hour in some cases. Most develop in the late afternoon and early evening. In most of Alberta, a wind warning is given for winds expected to reach at least 70 kilometres per hour, or gust at least 90 kilometres per hour.
May through September is tornado and hail season, with mid-June to early August being the peak time. Tornadoes are often hard to see from far away and not all have a visible funnel cloud. Tornadoes usually come from the south or west, but can quickly change direction without warning. A tornado is deceptive – it may appear to be standing still when it is moving toward you.

 

Before a Tornado or Extreme Winds

 

When a tornado or extreme winds hit

  • If you are in a detached home

    • Bring all household members, including pets, to the basement or underground shelter, if available. Otherwise, take shelter in a small interior ground floor room such as a bathroom, closet or hallway.
    • Make sure windows and doors are closed and secured, and then stay away from them.
  • If you are in an office or apartment

    • Take shelter in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or on the ground floor.
    • Do not use the elevator.
    • Stay away from windows.
  • If you are on a farm

    • Bring all household members, including pets, to the basement or underground shelter, if available. Otherwise, take shelter in a small interior ground floor room such as a bathroom, closet or hallway.
    • Make sure windows and doors are closed and secured, and then stay away from them.
    • Do not try to rescue or shelter livestock unless you feel it is safe to do so.
  • If you are in a large building like a mall / arena

    Buildings such as an arena or shopping mall may collapse if a tornado hits.

    • If possible, find shelter in another building.
    • If trapped inside, take cover under a sturdy object such as a table or desk.If
  • If you are in a mobile home

    Mobile homes and vehicles are not safe during tornadoes and extreme windstorms.

    • If you know severe weather is approaching and do not have safe shelter, leave the area well in advance and seek shelter in a building (preferably with a solid foundation). If it is too late to leave the area by vehicle, seek shelter in a nearby solid building immediately.
    • If there is no solid building near you, take shelter in a ditch, culvert or low-lying area away from vehicles and mobile homes. Cover your head for protection, beware of flooding from downpours, and be prepared to move.
  • If you are driving

    • If the threat is visible far in the distance, you may be able to avoid it by moving at right angles to its path. Otherwise, seek shelter in a solid building immediately.
    • If the threat is near and shelter is not available, get out of the vehicle and take cover in a ditch, culvert or low-lying area away from the vehicle. Cover your head for protection, beware of flooding from downpours, and be prepared to move.
    • Never try to outrun a nearby tornado.
    • Avoid sheltering under bridges and overpasses where wind speeds can increase.