We are now entering the heart of severe storm season.
Darin Driedger is the Emergency Coordinator for Southern Emergency Response Committee. (SERC)
Typically, he says the most severe storms occur between the months of May and August, with June and July being the most active. Parts of Southern Manitoba got a bit of a taste of that this past Sunday when a tornado watch was issued for areas of the region as severe weather moved through the Southern United States and dipped over the international border into Canada. Driedger says the large destructive storm that hit Southern Ontario and areas of Quebec two weeks ago is also a good example that severe weather can hit very suddenly.
"Tragically, there are some fatalities with that storm as well and many people got injured. A lot of that came from people getting struck by debris. Maybe people are trying to quickly get home, hoping they can beat the storm, but again when there's falling trees with such high winds that can uproot even very large trees. It becomes very dangerous to be anywhere, even in a vehicle outside at that point."
Driedger says the storm in Ontario and Quebec, and the Tornado Watch last weekend for areas of the Pembina Valley are very good reminders to have a conversation with family members to clarify any emergency plans. He says this type of severe summer weather, typically hits either in the late afternoon or late evening hours when people are active, or many people have activities. "So you may not all be with your family or you might not be home when severe weather can hit, so have a plan on how you would reunite."
One example Driedger used is arranging to have the same out-of-town contact to reunite.
It may go against the instincts of some people, however, Driedger says the safest and best way to survive a severe weather event is to seek shelter immediately if a warning is issued.
Explaining the difference between a Watch and a Warning, Driedger says a Watch is issued by Environment Canada when the conditions are favourable for that weather to occur. A Warning means that event is imminent and likely occurring or about to occur in your area. So the Warning is much, much, more serious...the Warning means you have to seek immediate shelter. That has to be right away, wherever you are," says Driedger.
Driedger says an alerting app on your phone can be a good resource when planning for severe summer weather. Depending on the emergency, he says there are a few options for residents. Residents can go onto each municipal website to find out additional information.
The Province and the federal government also use an alerting system when there's an imminent threat. "In this case, it would have to be a tornado warning. There's no enrolment required for that," said Driedger. "Essentially if you're in the affected area, you're going to get that notice on your phone, it's going to be very loud."
Environment Canada also has a weather app that sends out push notifications when warnings are issued.