Shelter-in-place during a tornado

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Alberta can experience extreme weather during the summer months, including a tornado.

 Signs of a tornado

  • strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base
  • whirling dust and/or debris on the ground underneath the cloud base
  • tornadoes do not always have visible funnels - rain can obstruct the funnel from view
  • hail or heavy rain followed by either absolute calm or extreme wind shift
  • loud continuous roar or rumble unlike thunder that fades within seconds
  • visible small, bright, blue and green to white power flashes at ground level

Actions to take

  • shelter-in-place as flying debris is the greatest danger
  • proceed immediately to your basement or lowest level of building
  • if there is no basement, go to the interior most hallway or room without windows (bathroom, pantry, closet)
  • stay away from windows and doors
  • get underneath a sturdy piece of furniture and cover your neck and head
  • avoid places/rooms with wide-span roofs (cafeterias, gymnasiums, shopping malls)
  • mobile homes are not safe shelters; you should make plans before the storm arrives to get to a pre-planned shelter
  • apartment dwellers should have a plan in place to get to an apartment on the lowest level of the complex and take the basic tornado safety guidelines
  • do not attempt to outrun a tornado in your automobile; instead seek shelter inside a nearby building
  • if stranded outside, lie down in a ditch or low lying area away from the vehicle, but remain aware of possible flash flooding
  • do not seek shelter underneath a bridge or overpass
  • if you are boating or swimming, head for land immediately
  • if safe to do so, bring livestock and/or pets indoors, close all windows and doors, and secure loose outdoor objects or move them inside

What do I do after the tornado?

  • keep family and pets together and wait for emergency personnel to arrive
  • continue to monitor local TV, radio and/or weather radio and stay alert for further information or instructions
  • watch out for fallen power lines, and be aware of broken gas lines
  • stay out of damaged buildings
  • if you are away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so

Weather terms

A "tornado watch" is issued by Environment Canada when conditions are favourable for the development of severe weather. Watches are typically issued for local-scale events in which the timing and location of occurrence remains uncertain; such as severe thunderstorms or tornadoes. As certainty increases about the path and strength of a storm system, a watch may be upgraded to a Warning, which is an urgent message that severe weather is either occurring or will occur. A warning is usually issued six to 24 hours in advance, although some severe weather (such as thunderstorms and tornadoes) can occur rapidly with less than a half hour's notice.

A "tornado warning" is issued by Environment Canada and rebroadcast by the Strathcona County Alert system when severe weather is either imminent or occurring. Severe thunderstorm warnings, by their nature, may be issued less than one hour in advance. Weather warnings are usually issued for regular forecast regions affected. 

Last updated: Thursday, June 28, 2018
Page ID: 48703