Tornadoes have been observed in every province and territory of Canada. Tornadoes, on the other hand, are most common in two areas: southern Alberta, to southern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba to northern Ontario, and southern Ontario, across southern Quebec to New Brunswick. Although less frequent than in the United States, tornadoes do occur in Canada. In fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of tornado occurrence in the world.
Canadians experience many different types of severe weather. They include hurricanes, blizzards, floods and drought-induced wildfires. All of these weather conditions can be dangerous, but it is tornadoes that claim the lives of the most Canadians. In fact, tornadoes are responsible for more deaths in Canada than any other atmospheric disturbance.
Canada's deadliest tornado occurred in St. Catharines, Ontario on May 20, 1950. It killed 121 people, made hundreds of others homeless and caused an estimated $750,000 in damage. This number does not include the dozens of people who died or were injured in nearby countries such as USA, Italy and Japan.
Since then, tornado warnings have been issued regularly across Southern Ontario. In fact, some families in the area have grown so used to them they fail to notice the warning signs. In 2007, a survey conducted by The Weather Channel revealed that nearly all Canadian residents understand how important it is to take cover before a tornado strikes.
Every year, around 80 confirmed and unconfirmed tornadoes touch down in Canada, with the majority occuring in the southern Canadian Prairies, southern Ontario, and southern Quebec. After the United States, Canada has the second-highest number of tornadoes each year. However, because most tornadoes are relatively weak, small, and short-lived, they are often overlooked by scientists and researchers who study them from a distance.
In fact, until 2011 when it was discovered by scientists using aerial photos, no on knew that Canada even had a tornado tradition. That year, photos taken by photographers working for Environment Canada revealed evidence of several large tornadoes in northern Manitoba. This discovery opened the door for more research into Canada's tornado history, and today we know that at least six other large outbreaks have hit the country over the last 200 years.
The first documented outbreak of tornadoes in Canada occurred on May 25, 1884, near present-day Red Deer, Alberta. The storm killed about 50 people and injured another 100. These deaths were likely caused by multiple factors rather than just tornadoes, but still, this is the earliest record of deadly tornadoes in Canada.
Another outbreak occurred on April 23, 1900. This event has been determined to be the largest tornado outbreak in Canadian history.
Tornadoes have a negative impact on local ecosystems and wildlife by destroying habitats. (For example, the deadliest tornado in Canadian history struck Regina in August 1912, killing 28 people.) In Canada, there are around 80-100 verified tornadoes every year, however it is thought that there are far more than 200. Not only does destruction caused by tornadoes result in lost habitat, but so too does loss of vegetation that used to protect buildings from wind damage.
Canada has been affected by numerous major hurricanes over the past 100 years. These storms can cause extensive damage across North America, especially in coastal areas. Hurricane Hazel hit Vancouver Island with winds of 175 km/hr (110 mph) and tides up to 13 feet (4 m) high in January 1954. The most devastating hurricane to ever make landfall in Canada was Hurricane Fred in 1979. It killed 37 people and caused $7 billion in damages. Another deadly storm was Hurricane Juan in 2016. It's estimated that this storm, which destroyed homes and businesses across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, killed six people.
In addition to these natural disasters, Canada has also experienced several large-scale industrial accidents. A nuclear accident at the Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario led to the evacuation of the surrounding area when radioactive gas escaped into the atmosphere. An explosion at a chemical plant in Bienville, Louisiana caused an oil spill that polluted parts of the Gulf of Mexico for months.
You may be surprised to learn that Canada is outranked only by the United States as the country with the highest number of tornadoes. Tornadoes shouldn't be confused with hurricanes; the two phenomena are very different. A tornado is produced by a violent storm and is accompanied by lightning, hail, and torrential rain. They can be extremely dangerous because they can move rapidly through populated areas picking up speed as it spins around its axis crossing paths with other tornadoes or straight-line winds. Canada has had over 100 fatalities due to tornado activity.
While most countries including Canada experience occasional tropical storms and hurricanes, these events are not typically considered major disasters. However, if a hurricane causes significant damage in an area where people lack adequate protection from the elements, such as buildings not designed to withstand high winds, or if there is loss of life, then this would be classified as a major disaster.
Canada's most destructive tornado event was probably the 1998 outbreak sequence that affected portions of eastern Canada. This outbreak sequence resulted in 56 deaths (32 people were killed in Ontario alone) and thousands of injuries. An estimated $750 million in damage occurred across eight provinces. Another deadly outbreak occurred in St. Catharines, Ontario in 2007 - this time resulting in 15 deaths and many more injuries. The total cost of this event was put at $150 million.
In conclusion, yes, Canada does experience hurricanes and tornadoes.