RECENT LOCATIONS

Close
Add a location
Edit your saved locations

Weather draws storm chasers to Saskatchewan


Intense lightning has been spotted throughout the province this summer
Intense lightning has been spotted throughout the province this summer

The Canadian Press

July 5, 2012 — Storm chasers say that Saskatchewan is becoming an epicentre for prairie tornadoes this year.

Forty-eight tornado warnings were issued in Saskatchewan on July 3, 2012
Forty-eight tornado warnings were issued in Saskatchewan on July 3, 2012

Storm chasers are going to go wherever the storms are, and right now, they're happening in Saskatchewan.

Greg Johnson, a Regina resident dubbed the tornado hunter, says this is due to the position of the jet stream, which is making the province a hot spot for intense weather.

While Greg usually chases storms in the United States in places such as Oklahoma and Texas, this year, he's been sticking close to home.

His team intercepted two tornadoes in rural Saskatchewan on Tuesday, and last week - on June 26 - they caught another tornado near Moose Jaw.

"This season in particular has been really busy in Saskatchewan. We've had more tornadoes than average," he says. "Having said that, last year was extremely below average for tornadoes in Saskatchewan. We only had three recorded last year and on average Saskatchewan has 10 to 12. This is the thing about weather: it's fickle."

Johnson notes that Saskatchewan has had its share of tornadoes. On July 2, 2010, an F3 tornado hit the Kawacatoose First Nation, 200 kilometres south-east of Saskatoon. The tornado destroyed more than a dozen homes on the reserve and in the nearby community of Raymore. Environment Canada said the twister was about 500 metres wide, cut a path 45 kilometres long and may have been on the ground for as long as one hour. There were no fatalities.

The position of the jet stream has made the province a hot spot for storms
The position of the jet stream has made the province a hot spot for storms

"The reality is that they happen in Canada," Johnson says. "They're equally as devastating, equally as dangerous and, frankly, equally as elusive. It's just as hard to catch a tornado in Kansas as it is in Saskatchewan."

John Paul Cragg, a severe weather specialist with Environment Canada, says the agency is still trying to determine how many tornadoes have touched down in Saskatchewan so far this year. The current estimate is more than a dozen.

Tornado season in Saskatchewan typically runs until the end of July before tapering off in August, according to Cragg.

Meteorologist Mark Robinson, a storm chaser with The Weather Network, made his first chase in Saskatchewan last week and loved it.

"Saskatchewan is sort of becoming ... the epicentre for the Prairies chasing," says Robinson.

He says that a lot of chasers don't realize that Canada is a tornado hotspot. In some ways, it's even better than chasing south of the border.

"In the states, especially down in Kansas, the roads down there are almost made of dust. And when they get water on them they turn into this real thick, clinging, pudding-type mud and it's just horrible," he says. "But up in Saskatchewan, the roads are all that solid gravel ... and it's a beautiful grid pattern, so you can just sort of go wherever you need to go to get close to the tornadoes and get close to the storms. I was amazed at that and sort of went, 'Wow, this is incredible.' Add on top of that it's beautifully flat ... and you can see these storms for miles."

With files from CJME

Sign in or Sign up to submit a comment.




Comments





Take your weather with you, no matter where you go.

Get instant forecasts and alerts, right on your computer.

  • RSS & Data
Add weather updates to your website or RSS reader.