After tornado outbreaks in the U.S., could Canada see similar storms?

Click to play video: 'What’s behind the string of tornadoes in the U.S. and could Canada see similar?'
What’s behind the string of tornadoes in the U.S. and could Canada see similar?
WATCH: What's behind the string of tornadoes in the U.S. and could Canada see similar? – May 9, 2024

The slow-moving storm system that has battered parts of the United States with tornadoes continues to show signs it’s not done yet.

But while it has made headlines over the devastation in multiple states, experts say it’s not the number of storms but the locations they’ve hit that is significant.

Tornado hunter Greg Johnson told Global News this time of year is tornado season for the Great Plains of the U.S., meaning it’s not “unusual” for places from Texas to Nebraska to see tornado outbreaks.

“What turns them into disasters, what turns them into these tragedies is when they impact human communities,” he said. “It seems like every day whenever there’s a tornado that gets reported, it’s been reported on because it’s actually hit a populated area, and that’s a real tragedy.”

Click to play video: 'Deadly tornadoes kill at least 14 over U.S. Memorial Day weekend'
Deadly tornadoes kill at least 14 over U.S. Memorial Day weekend

The latest storms saw at least three people killed in Tennessee and North Carolina, with a fourth having died earlier this week.

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In Michigan, across the Great Lakes from Canada, the state issued its first-ever tornado emergency, the highest alert level it can issue and used as a way to get people “out of their chairs and into basements and storm shelters,” with the goal to get a different kind of reaction than what a tornado watch or warning might cause.

In the past week, the country has seen more than 100 tornadoes, a number that is about the average seen in Canada annually.

Click to play video: 'Tennessee storms: Floods, a tornado, and ‘golf-ball-sized’ hail wreak havoc'
Tennessee storms: Floods, a tornado, and ‘golf-ball-sized’ hail wreak havoc

After several active years of extreme weather, including tornadoes in areas of Canada not used to seeing many of them, could the system south of the border be a sign of more to come here?

The answer: it’s hard to say.

“I do expect it to be a rather stormy late spring and summer, above-normal rainfall, but it is tough to predict individual outbreaks,” Global News Chief Meteorologist Anthony Farnell said Thursday.

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That’s not to say Canada won’t see some tornadoes though if the conditions are right.

Environment Canada warning preparedness meteorologist Steven Flisfeder told Global News they do anticipate a warmer-than-normal summer, but added there are several factors that come into play with a tornado.

Click to play video: 'Severe storms, tornadoes rumble throughout eastern U.S.'
Severe storms, tornadoes rumble throughout eastern U.S.

“It’s not just the heat, we also require a lot of moisture instability,” he said, noting it’s difficult to say yet if Canada will see that.

While many know of tornado alley in the U.S., Canada has its own with a “hotspot in southern into eastern Ontario.”

However, Flisfeder notes tornadoes are also prominent in the southern Prairies, northwestern Ontario, and southeastern Alberta.

Even with the uncertainty of predicting tornado outbreaks in Canada, Canadians should always be prepared for such a storm.

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How to be prepared for a tornado

Flisfeder says a crucial element of preparedness is staying up to date with weather forecasts and having a reliable weather source, whether TV, radio or other outlet, that can have warnings sent to you as severe weather is approaching or hitting your area.

But people should also know what steps to take if severe weather is approaching.

This means knowing what weather is expected if you plan to be outdoors and what to do if storms are approaching, including staying indoors and if you hear a tornado warning, taking shelter.

This can include heading to the basement of the building you’re in, or if there is none, taking shelter in the main floor bathtub.

“You can survive any tornado,” Johnson said. “Even the most violent, vicious tornado out there is a survivable experience if you’re prepared for it and heed the warnings.”


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