Gateway Gazette

What to do in a Severe Storm

Thunderstorms, hail, blizzards, ice storms, high winds and heavy rain can develop quickly and threaten life and property. Severe storms occur in all regions of Canada and in all seasons.

Listen to the local radio or television stations for severe weather warnings and advice. Keep a battery-powered or wind-up radio on hand as there can be power outages during severe storms.

Types of Storms

Hail

  • Hailstorms occur across Canada, though they are most frequent in Alberta, the southern Prairies and in southern Ontario.
  • Hailstorms occur mostly from May to October.
  • Parts of the Prairies can expect up to 10 hailstorms a year.
  • For farmers whose crops are crushed, and for others whose homes and cars are damaged, a hailstorm can be a financial disaster.
  • Some hailstones are the size of peas while others can be as big as grapefruits.

Heavy rain

  • Heavy rainfall can result in flooding. This is particularly true when the ground is still frozen or already saturated from previous storms.
  • Floods may also result, especially if heavy rain coincides with the spring thaw.

Lightning

  • Lightning occurs when the air becomes charged with electricity during a thunderstorm.
  • Bolts of lightning travel at about 40,000 kilometres per second.
  • More on lightning safety.

Thunderstorms

  • Thunderstorms are often accompanied by high winds, hail, lightning, heavy rain and tornadoes.
  • Thunderstorms are usually over within an hour, although a series of thunderstorms can last for several hours.

Wind

  • Strong winds, and especially gusty winds, can cause property damage or turn any loose item into a dangerous projectile, and create unsafe travelling conditions that affect your ability to safely steer your car.
  • When there is a wind warning for your area, you should expect inland winds to be blowing steadily at 60-65 km/h or more, or winds that are gusting up to 90 km/h or more. Secure or put away loose objects such as outdoor furniture or garbage cans, put your car in the garage, and bring livestock to shelter.
  • With winds between 60 and 70 km/h, you will have difficulty with balance and walking against the wind. Twigs and small branches could also blow off trees and cause a hazard, so stay inside until it is safe.

Preparing for severe storms

Stock up on heating fuel and ready-to-eat food, as well as battery-powered or wind-up flashlights and radios – and extra batteries. For a complete list of emergency supplies, go to emergency kits. Also, learn what to have in your car emergency kit.

When a severe storm is on the horizon, the Meteorological Service of Canada issues watches, warnings and advisories through radio and television stations, the WeatherOffice Website, automated telephone information lines and Environment Canada’s Weatheradio.

Other tips for preparedness

  • If a severe storm is forecast, secure everything that might be blown around or torn loose – indoors and outdoors. Flying objects such as garbage cans and lawn furniture can injure people and damage property.
  • Trim dead branches and cut down dead trees to reduce the danger of these falling onto your house during a storm.
  • If you are indoors, stay away from windows, doors and fireplaces.
  • You may want to go to the sheltered area that you and your family chose for your emergency plan.
  • If you are advised by officials to evacuate, do so. Take your emergency kit with you.
  • You can use a cellular telephone during a severe storm, but it’s not safe to use a land-line telephone.
  • Never go out in a boat during a storm. If you are on the water and you see bad weather approaching, head for shore immediately. Always check the marine forecast before leaving for a day of boating and listen to weather reports during your cruise.
  • If you are in a car, stop the car away from trees or power lines that might fall on you). Stay there.
  • On a farm, generally, the effects of severe storms on livestock are lessened by moving animals to avoid the storm; mitigating the storm’s effect if it cannot be avoided; or sheltering the animals, ensuring they have access to food and water. The approach taken would depend upon the type of disaster anticipated.

What to do before

Hail

  • If hail is forecast, you may want to protect your vehicle by putting it in the garage.

Heavy Rain

  • Consider checking the drainage around the house to reduce the possibility of basement flooding after a heavy rain.

Thunderstorms

  • Before a severe thunderstorm, unplug radios and televisions – listen for weather updates on your battery-powered radio.

During a severe storm

What to do during a severe storms

  • If you are indoors, stay away from windows, doors and fireplaces.
  • You may want to go to the sheltered area that you and your family chose for your emergency plan.
  • If you are advised by officials to evacuate, do so. Take your emergency kit with you.
  • You can use a cellular telephone during a severe storm, but it’s not safe to use a land-line telephone.
  • Never go out in a boat during a storm. If you are on the water and you see bad weather approaching, head for shore immediately. Always check the marine forecast before leaving for a day of boating and listen to weather reports during your cruise.
  • If you are in a car, stop the car away from trees or power lines that might fall on you). Stay there.

What to do during

Hail

  • Take cover when hail begins to fall. Do not go out to cover plants, cars or garden furniture or to rescue animals. Hail comes down at great speed, especially when accompanied by high winds. Although no one in Canada has ever been killed by hail, people have been seriously injured by it.
  • When a hailstorm hits, stay indoors, and keep yourself and your pets away from windows, glass doors and skylights which can shatter if hit by hailstones. Avoid using the telephone during a storm, and do not touch metal objects like stoves, radiators, metal pipes, and sinks.
  • When a hailstorm hits, find shelter and avoid underpasses or any low lying areas that may flood.

Lightning

  • Always take shelter during a lightning storm.
  • There is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm. Safe shelter can be found either in an enclosed building or a hard-topped vehicle.
  • If you can see lightning or hear thunder, you are in danger of being hit. Seek shelter immediately.
  • Wait 30 minutes after the last lightning strike in a severe storm before venturing outside again.
  • Do not ride bicycles, motorcycles, tractors, or golf carts. These will not protect you from a lightning strike.

Thunderstorms

  • During thunderstorms, you should also stay away from items that conduct electricity, such as corded telephones, appliances, sinks, bathtubs, radiators and metal pipes.

Source: Government of Canada – Get Prepared

Related Articles

Leave a Reply