Learn more about Emergency Preparedness and how to protect yourself, your family and your property during various weather phenoms and other possible disasters and emergencies.
Severe Weather and Storms
- Ice Storms
- Heavy Rain
Extreme Heat and Your Health
Severe Weather and Storms
Types of storms
What to do:Thunderstorms, hail, blizzards, ice storms, high winds and heavy rain can develop quickly and threaten life and property. Severe storms occur in all regions of Canada and in all seasons.
Listen to the local radio or television stations for severe weather warnings and advice. Keep a battery-powered or wind-up radio on hand as there can be power outages during severe storms.
- A blizzard, in general, is when winds of 40 km/h or greater are expected to cause widespread reductions in visibility to 400 metres or less, due to blowing snow, or blowing snow in combination with falling snow, for at least four hours.
- Blizzards come in on a wave of cold arctic air, bringing snow, bitter cold, high winds and poor visibility in blowing snow. While these conditions must last for at least four hours to be designated a blizzard, they may last for several days.
- Poor visibility, low temperatures and high winds combine to create a significant hazard.
- In Canada, blizzards with high winds are most common in the Prairies, eastern Arctic and eastern Ontario.
- Heavy snowfalls are most common in British Columbia, the Atlantic provinces, southern and eastern Quebec and areas around the Great Lakes.
- Freezing rain can occur pretty much anywhere in the country, but is particularly common in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.
- Freezing rain is tough, clings to everything it touches and is more slippery than snow.
- A little freezing rain is dangerous, a lot can be catastrophic.
Severe weather conditions often develop during Manitoba summers. Thunder, lightning, hail and even tornadoes can develop quickly and have the potential to be extremely dangerous. That’s why it is important that you understand the risks created by severe summer weather and how you can protect yourself.
Hot and/or muggy days and warm nights indicate that thunderstorms may be forming, so be prepared. Always keep your eyes on the sky and watch for the possible development of storms.
For more information about the signs that a severe summer storm could be on the horizon visit:
Listen for the warnings
Environment Canada monitors the weather. If a severe storm is on the horizon, the weather service issues watches, advisories and warnings through national, regional and local radio and television stations and Environment Canada’s Weatheradio.
Severe weather can develop very quickly. Make it a habit to listen to your local radio or television stations for severe weather warnings and advice. Make sure you have a battery-powered radio on hand, as electricity frequently fails during a severe storm.
Secure everything that might be blown around or torn loose. Flying objects such as patio furniture and garbage cans can injure people and damage property.
Never venture out in a boat. If you are on the water and you see bad weather approaching, head for shore immediately. Always check the marine forecast before leaving for a day of boating and continue to listen to weather reports throughout the day.
- Weather Watch – conditions are favourable for a severe storm, even though one has not yet developed. This is usually issued early in the day. Keep monitoring weather conditions and listen for updated statements.
- Weather Warning – Severe weather is happening or hazardous weather is highly probable.
Public Weather Warnings - Manitoba (text, mobile, rss)Be Prepared
Environment Canada - Text only service
Mobile Weather Service - Government of Canada
Storms such as tornadoes often strike too quickly to allow you to choose a shelter or to pack an emergency kit. Develop a plan that outlines where you will take shelter if a severe storm hits.
Pack a "72 hour” emergency kit
Your kit should include food, clothing, blankets, medication, bottled water and first-aid and tool kits, as well as flashlights and a battery-powered radio – with extra batteries for both. You should have enough supplies in your kit to last 72 hours.
Reduce the hazards on your property
Trim rotting or dead branches and cut down dead trees on your property. You should also check the drainage around your house to reduce the possibility of basement flooding.
Check your insurance coverage
Make sure that your insurance protection covers all the potential damages that may be c
aused by severe weather. Contact your insurance broker to make sure that you have the appropriate coverage.
Thunderstorms are common on the prairies. They are often accompanied by hail, lightning, high winds, heavy rain and, occasionally, tornadoes.
Lightning is a killer. No other aspect of severe summer weather presents more of a danger than lightning. Bolts of lightning hit the ground at about 40,000 kilometers a second and can carry an electrical charge of as much as 1 million volts.
The 30-30 rule – To estimate how far away lightning is, count the seconds between the flash of lightning and the thunderclap. Each second is about 300 metres. If you count fewer than 30 seconds, look around for shelter. If you count fewer than five seconds, take shelter urgently - this means lightning is near and you do not want to be the tallest object in the area. It is recommended to wait 30 minutes after the last lightning strike in a severe storm before venturing outside again.
Taking shelter from lightning – If you’re indoors, stay away from windows, doors, fireplaces, radiators, stoves, sinks, bathtubs, appliances, metal pipes, telephones, and other materials that conduct electricity. Unplug your radios and TVs.
If you are outdoors, take shelter in a depressed area such as a ditch or culvert, but never under a tree. Do not ride bicycles, motorcycles or golf carts or use metal shovels or golf clubs. If you are swimming, return to land immediately. If you are caught in the open, do not lie flat. Crouch in the leapfrog position and cover your head. If you are in a car, stay there but move your car away from any trees.
A heavy rainfall can cause flooding. This is particularly true when the ground is already saturated from previous storms. If you know there is flooding or the possibility of flooding in your area, keep your radio on to find out what areas are flooded, what areas are likely to be flooded, as well as what roads are safe, where to go and what to do if the local emergency team asks you to leave your home. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to avoid driving through flooded roads and underpasses. The water may be a great deal deeper than it looks and you could put yourself in danger.
Take cover when hail begins to fall. Do not go out to cover plants, cars or garden furniture or to rescue animals. Hail comes down at great speed, especially when accompanied by high winds. Although no one in Canada has been killed by hail, people have been seriously injured by it.
Tornadoes form suddenly, are often preceded by warm, humid weather, and are always produced by thunderstorms.
Tornado warning signs include the following:
- An extremely dark sky, sometimes highlighted by green or yellow clouds
- A rumbling or whistling sound
- A funnel cloud at the rear base of a thundercloud, often behind a curtain of heavy rain or hail.
Tornadoes are violent wind storms characterized by a twisting, funnel-shaped cloud which forms at the base of cloud banks and points towards the ground. Tornadoes usually move over the ground at anywhere from 20 to 90 kilometres per hour and often travel from the southwest to the northeast. They are erratic and can change course suddenly. Do not follow tornadoes in your car or attempt to take photographs of them – if you see a tornado, take shelter immediately.
Taking shelter during a tornado
- If you are at home, go to the basement or take shelter in a small interior ground floor room such as a bathroom, closet or hallway. Failing that, protect yourself by taking shelter under a heavy table or desk. In all cases, stay away from windows, outside walls and doors.
- If your are in an office or an apartment building, take shelter in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or on the ground floor. Do not use the elevator and stay away from windows. Avoid buildings such as gymnasiums, churches and auditoriums with wide span roofs. These roofs do not have supports in the middle and may collapse if a tornado hits them. If you are in one of these types of buildings, take cover under a heavy table or desk.
- If you are caught outside, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area and cover your head. If lightning is occurring, crouch in the leapfrog position and lower your head.
- Do not get caught in a car or a mobile home – More than 50% of all deaths caused by tornadoes happen in mobile homes. If you cannot take shelter in a sturdy building, lie down in a ditch away from your car or mobile home. Hug the ground, protect your head and watch out for flying debris. Small objects such as sticks and straws can become lethal weapons when driven by the high winds created by tornadoes.
- Strong winds, and especially gusty winds, can cause property damage or turn any loose item into a dangerous projectile, and create unsafe travelling conditions that affect your ability to safely steer your car.
- When there is a wind warning for your area, you should expect inland winds to be blowing steadily at 60-65 km/h or more, or winds that are gusting up to 90 km/h or more. Secure or put away loose objects such as outdoor furniture or garbage cans, put your car in the garage, and bring livestock to shelter.
- With winds between 60 and 70 km/h, you will have difficulty with balance and walking against the wind. Twigs and small branches could also blow off trees and cause a hazard, so stay inside until it is safe.
You may still be in danger once a serious storm is over. Take the following steps to protect yourself.
- Check the reports being broadcast on your radio or television and follow instructions.
- Give first aid to people who are injured or trapped. Get help, if necessary.
- Unless you are asked to help or are qualified to give assistance, please stay away from damaged areas.
- Do not go near loose or dangling power lines. Report them and any broken sewer and water mains to the authorities.
- Lightning and downed power lines can cause fires. Report fires to the fire department. Know how to fight small fires.
- Water supplies may be contaminated so purify your water by boiling it for 10 minutes or by adding water-purification tablets or by adding one drop of unscented chlorine bleach to one litre of water (three drops for cloudy water).
- If you use chlorine bleach to purify the water, stir the bleach in and wait 30 minutes before drinking. The water should have a slight chlorine smell.
- Leave the telephone lines free for official use. Do not use the telephone except in real emergencies.
- Drive cautiously and only if necessary. Debris, broken power lines and washed-out roads and bridges make driving difficult after a severe storm. Give way to emergency vehicles at all times.
- If the power has been off for several hours, check the food in your refrigerator and freezer to see if it has spoiled.
Extreme Heat and Your Health
Heat events or "heat waves” occur when weather conditions combine to create higher than normal temperature and/or humidity levels over a period of several days.
Heat affects the body’s ability to regulate its temperature and it can become overworked if exposed to heat for too long. This can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, other serious illnesses or even death. While the health risks related to heat are higher for certain groups, such as older adults, young children, people taking certain medications and people with chronic conditions, everyone is potentially at risk.
Keeping Cool Without Air Conditioning
Not everyone has access to air conditioning in their homes during extreme heat events.
Health Canada has some tips for staying cool during hot temperatures.