Andrea Stockton, staff writer
May 9, 2011 — Severe weather season is upon us and residents are urged to know the risks involved with dangerous conditions.
The severe weather season has arrived and experts are keeping a close eye on potential damaging systems.
The first tornado of the season was confirmed in Fergus, Ontario after a fierce thunderstorm ripped through at the end of April. The early start to active weather could be a sign of what's to follow in the coming months.
“Knowing that our temperatures are going to start creeping up a bit, knowing there is that possibility we could see more unsettled conditions in the area, for sure this is something we will be monitoring very closely,” says Geoff Coulson, Warning Preparedness Meteorologist at Environment Canada.
Ontarians are encouraged to prepare for severe weather, especially since the province usually sees around 12 tornadoes each year.
An F1 tornado that hit the town of Leamington last June is still fresh on the minds of many that were affected.
The thunderstorms that spawned the tornadoes also triggered significant downbursts, which contributed to the widespread damage. Metal was wrapped around poles, roofs were blown off houses and massive trees came crashing down on cars. Thousands of residents were left without electricity and some were even left without a home.
“It was really scary and it was really hard because we had to move out for eight months,” recalls Grade 5 student Luke.
Schools conduct several emergency drills to ensure students are aware of the potential dangers.
“What they learn at school about finding an interior wall and taking cover, the drill itself; they take that home with them because it isn't necessarily going to happen at school,” explains Principal Anna Mastronardi at Gore Hill Public School in Leamington.
Tornado season in Ontario usually begins in May and lasts through to September. Meteorologists say it's important to have a general idea of the weather forecast at all times to know when the uglier conditions could arrive.
“There are very few days in a year when there is any real chance of danger, and our job is to make sure you’re aware of those days with tornado potential. Let’s make sure we’re ready,” warns Chris Scott, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.