June 19, 2019 6:25 pm
Updated: June 19, 2019 7:59 pm

New technology allows experts to identify tornadoes in remote parts of Canada

Access to new technology is allowing weather experts to identify where unreported tornadoes have touched down. As Tracy Nagai reports, the data will be used to fine-tune alerts and help keep people safe.

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Access to a new constellation of satellites has experts at Western University searching for tornadoes across the country.

“It gets global, daily, high-resolution imagery for us,” Dr. David Sills with the Northern Tornadoes Project said. “We can look from one day for the next to see when a new scar of tornado damage has occurred in the forest.”

READ MORE: Alberta man mows lawn with tornado behind him


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Sills said many tornadoes happen in remote regions where forest density makes ground surveys impossible and they’re never reported. This work is expected to help experts better understand how often tornadoes occur and the risk to Canadians.

“About 10 years ago we did a study on where tornado-prone areas are in Canada,” Sills said. “We realized we were only detecting between 30 to 50 per cent of the tornadoes that occur in Canada.”

READ MORE: Severe thunderstorm watches, warnings issued for Calgary, western Alberta

In Alberta, there’s an average of 15 tornadoes per year but that number could climb as more tornadoes are detected.

“This year we’re really spending a lot more time looking at Alberta,” Sills said. “It’s quite different than anywhere in Canada as far as generating tornadoes.”

Watch below: In June 2017, a photo of a man in Alberta mowing a lawn with a tornado swirling behind caused a bit of a storm on social media.

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