This is today’s Environment Canada thunderstorm outlook. This whole thunderstorm prediction page is new for Canadians. Until recently, there was little to no monitoring of severe storms and even less warning. I did a post about that back in 2014. Back then I pointed this out:
“The Canadian system of forecasting tornados is so primitive that professional storm trackers from the USA consider finding and tracking a tornado in Canada to be the ultimate test of their ability because they get so little help.”
Canada’s one and only confirmed F5 tornado in Elie touched down without anyone at Environment Canada noticing until someone called them to tell them it was happening. Even if Environment Canada noticed, they had no way to warn the public in those days because well….it was Friday evening and everyone had gone out to the lake.
Much of this has changed. There are still issues with storm warnings. In 2014, a storm crossed over from Detroit into Windsor with no warning. I was actually awake watching this particular storm system on radar and I could see it was dangerous. The folks at NOAA were going crazy with red patches all over the map. A local private weather forecasting and warning system known as Ontario Tornado sent out warning tweets to those lucky enough to have their ap. There was silence out of Environment Canada, not even a watch, as tornados pummelled life. There was a lot of justifiable outrage from the Canadian public over that one. When bad things happen in Ontario the government will fix a problem the west of Canada has been complaining about for decades and we finally got our national AlertReady system.
During the Alonsa tornado of 2018 which actually crossed our property, hit with EF4 strength and killed Jack Furrie, 77. The tornado arrived with no local AlertReady warning because MTS-Bell had recently done “upgrades”. In spite of three months of complaints from residents, including official ones from local government officials like our Reeve, Stan Asham, they were apparently totally unaware their “upgrades” had ended all local cell service. Mr Furrie had a landline and he knew people would not be getting the cell phone warning. He also had no basement so fleeing was his only option. He died fleeing to his truck after spending too much telephoning warnings to his neighbours. (If there is a special place in heaven for those who give their lives savings others, Mr Furrie is there.) Meanwhile, the rest of Manitoba all knew Alonsa was being hit by the tornado. Environment Canada was spot on the job that day and they started issuing warnings almost half an hour before the tornado touched down. On the bright side (yes, I say this with heavy sarcasm) Bell-MTS did finally get our local cell phone service working.
And so June has arrived and tornado season is on us. Today we have to keep one eye on the sky and be situationally aware. The sky is already covering with floating popcorn balls that typically indicate severe storms might happen later in the day. My first chore for this morning is to double check the stuff in our tornado shelter/storage closet and make sure we’re ready, just in case.
In March, we developed indoor drips on the south side of the house. Our neighbour is a retired roofer and he came over even though it was nearing 10:00pm. He and I together got up on the roof and we cleared off some ice dams. He told us we needed a new roof. This May he installed it. Once it was all done he posed for us with his fiddle. We were expecting something like a rousing round from Fiddler on the Roof. Our cultural differences became immediately apparent as they sometimes do around here. He’s Metis and he played Devil Went Down to Georgia. We enjoyed it anyway.
He told us yesterday our new roof, made with all the best possible, highest quality of ice and water underlay and finest shingles Canada makes, combined with his skillful application, can take any hailstorm nature cares to throw at us. I find that comforting as I watch the sky although you must excuse me if I hope we never get to test his boast.
“A fiddler on the roof? Sounds crazy, no? But every one of us is a fiddler on the roof!”
And that is especially true during severe storm season.