A tornado, which is rare in Québec, is a destructive weather event because it concentrates enormous energy in a limited space. It can uproot trees, flip over cars and destroy buildings. It moves at high speed and can change paths abruptly.

Certain signs may indicate that a tornado is coming, including:

  • Extremely dark sky tinged with green or yellow
  • Frequent lightning and claps of thunder
  • Torrential rain
  • Hail
  • Rumbling or whistling sound
  • Funnel cloud at the base of a thunderstorm cloud

The Enhanced Fujita Scale rates a tornado according to the seriousness of the damage it causes: from F0 for light damage to F5 for devastating damage, with winds over 315 km/h.

Be prepared

If you live in a region where there is a risk of tornadoes, particularly in southern Québec, pay attention to any tornado warnings.

Establish which room in the house would be the safest during a tornado. Most often, it is a room in the basement or in the centre of the house on the ground floor. Tell your family where to take refuge in the event of a tornado.

Use caution during a tornado

Never approach a tornado. Just the opposite, get away from it and protect yourself from it.

In the case of a tornado that was forecast, follow the instructions provided by the authorities.

Inside a building:

  • ​Protect yourself inside a building with a solid structure.
  • Disconnect all electrical devices.
  • Take your emergency kit before finding shelter, preferably in the basement or on the ground floor, in the room that is nearest the centre of the house, or in a hallway.
  • Take shelter under a heavy piece of furniture.
  • Stay away from outside doors and walls.
  • Do not use the elevators.
  • Wait for the calm to return before leaving your shelter.

Outside a building:

  • If you are outside and are not able to get away from the tornado or find shelter inside a safe building, position yourself a good distance from any trees, utility poles or power lines.
  • Take refuge in a ditch or other depression in the ground if you cannot shelter in a building. Lie face down on the ground if necessary and protect your head with your hands.
  • You may also find shelter under a solid structure, such as a bridge.
  • Protect yourself from objects that could be projected by the wind.
  • Be ready to move in the event of flash flooding.
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Do not rely on inadequate shelter

Certain places must be avoided during a tornado because they do not provide adequate shelter. These are:

  • Vehicles
  • Mobile homes
  • Buildings with a huge roof, like a gymnasium, church or barn, as the roof is likely to collapse

If you are in a vehicle or at one of these places, leave it and find a safe shelter.

Make your environment safe and take note of the damage

After a tornado, the debris on the roads and on property is a source of danger. Beware of power lines that are on the ground and that may still be live.

If your home was damaged, you must inform:

  • Your fire department to verify that you can enter your home
  • Your insurer
  • The financial institution that gave you a mortgage

Know what to do after a disaster

Consult the After a disaster section to learn instructions and recommendations for getting back to normal in a safe manner.

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