News Flash

Red Deer County News

Posted on: July 5, 2018

Severe Weather Watches & Warnings

Weather (1)

When severe weather threatens, Environment Canada, the authoritative source of Weather Alerts 24/7, issues special alerts that notify those in affected areas so that they can take steps to protect themselves and their property from harm. These public alert bulletins are issued through the media, as well as through the department’s Weatheradio service, and the Environment Canada website.

Type of Alerts
The type of alert used depends on the severity and timing of the event:

  • Special Weather Statements are the least urgent type of alert and are issued to let people know that conditions are unusual and could cause concern.
  • Advisories are issued for specific weather events (like blowing snow, fog, freezing drizzle and frost) that are less severe, but could still significantly impact Canadians.
  • Watches alert you about weather conditions that are favourable for a storm or severe weather, which could cause safety concerns.
  • As certainty increases about the path and strength of a storm system, a watch may be upgraded to a Warning, which is an urgent message that severe weather is either occurring or will occur. Warnings are usually issued six to 24 hours in advance, although some severe weather (such as thunderstorms and tornadoes) can occur rapidly, with less than a half hour’s notice.

These alerts are updated regularly so that members of the public can stay on top of a developing situation and take the appropriate action.

Severe Summer Weather
Outdoors, we are vulnerable to severe weather conditions. This is particularly true out in nature or in open areas. When enjoying outdoor sports or activities like camping, hiking, water sports, team sports, fishing, climbing, biking or even walking, we need to know the weather forecast and be aware of the possibility of a storm developing. We should also be able to recognize the early signs of bad weather and know how to protect ourselves. As a general rule, if the sky darkens suddenly, one should seek shelter as soon as possible.

Lightning is the most common danger associated with storms. Lightning is an electrical discharge that can reach 10 000 amperes, striking the ground at about 40,000 km a second. It always seeks the easiest path to the ground. As soon as you see lightning or hear thunder you should find shelter. Storms also generate very strong winds, hail, heavy rain, and sometimes even tornadoes.

To be safe outdoors, you must be familiar with your immediate environment and the surrounding area. For example, by marking appropriate locations to take cover, you will be able to find shelter fast if the sky darkens and you notice thunder and lightning. Do not forget that a storm can develop very quickly and you need to be able to take cover in as little as 30 minutes.

Storm, lightning, strong winds, hail, tornado

  • If you are in a tent or camper, take cover in a building such as a comfort station, washroom or community hall, or get into a hardtop vehicle.
  • If there is no building close by, crouch down in a ditch or other low-lying area and cover your head with your arms.
  • In the event of a tornado, leave your car immediately as the violent wind could easily flip it over. If there is no sturdy building nearby to protect you, lie flat in a ditch, ravine or other depressed area, and protect your head with your arms. Beware of flying debris.
  • If you are in the water or on a boat, head for shore at the first sign of bad weather and take cover.
  • Wait for 30 minutes after the storm has passed before returning to an open area or to the water.

Heavy rain, flash flooding

  • Do not camp too close to streams or rivers because heavy rain may cause a rapid rise in the water level.
  • Never cross flooded streams or rivers because the undercurrents can carry you downstream.
  • In the event of a flash flood, head to higher ground immediately.

To better enjoy outdoor activities and to be able to protect yourself, you should keep abreast of the latest weather reports and warnings in effect issued by Environment Canada. Various tools such as the Environment Canada website, The Weatheradio Canada network broadcasting continuous weather reports on seven VHF frequencies at 162 MHz. (In Alberta, the frequencies used are: 162.400, 162.475, 162.525, and 162.550). There are also various apps available for download which use the Environment Canada data to alert.

For more information, visit the Environment Canada website:

Additional Info...
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