With the arrival of spring comes a change in storm patterns across the prairies. From April to September, we can be subject to numerous types of dangerous storms and weather phenomenon. Some of these include heavy rainfall, high winds, lightning, and tornados. Citizens should be aware of what action to take when they are caught in a storm or receive warning of a coming storm.
Heavy rainfall can cause backing up of sewers, overland flooding, seepage, and high flows in the creek. If you are at home, close any backflow valves in your basement, make sure downspouts are directed away from your home, place sandbags in areas subject to high water such as basement windows, and cover window wells. If you are out, do not drive through water, the depth is deceiving and may wash your vehicle away. If you drive through heavy water on streets, drive slowly as the wake made by your vehicle could force water into nearby buildings. If you are caught in the open, take shelter in high areas under trees.
High winds can include plow winds, sheer winds, or just generally windy days. Plow winds can be extremely destructive and can blow buildings off their foundations. Plow winds can be recognized by a rolling wall of cloud approaching. If you see this coming, take shelter in your basement or in the center of a building.
Every year, people are struck and killed by lightning. Lightning can even strike in a clear sky. If a lightning storm approaches, take shelter inside. If you are caught out in the open, take shelter in low areas as lightning strikes high objects. Stay away from trees and power poles.
Recent records show an increase in the number of tornados occurring in Saskatchewan every year. We don’t know if this is actually an increase or if it is reflective of better reporting. Tornados range in power from F1 – weakest to F5 – strongest. F5 tornados are rare in the prairies but do occur. The Regina cyclone, Edmonton tornado and the Pine Lake tornado were F3 to F5. If you see signs of a tornado or receive a tornado warning, take shelter in a basement, low spot, or the center of a building. If you are driving, take a road that will take you at a 90 degree path away from the tornado – you cannot outrun a tornado. If the tornado is going to hit your vehicle, get out and lay down in the ditch.
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