Storms expected for Regina Tuesday draw tornado chasers
Tornado watchers are planning to amass in the Regina area ahead of some storm activity expected Tuesday.
Monday morning Environment Canada issues some thunderstorm watches for areas around Swift Current in Saskatchewan's southwest. That appears to be just the beginning, however, as storm chasers and the national forecaster both expect the torrential weather to pick up steam heading into Tuesday.
Storm chaser Greg Johnson plans to return to Saskatchewan later Monday to keep an eye on the action. He says a report from the weather service's Prairie Arctic Storm Prediction Center arm is cautioning that "long track" tornadoes could be seen.
"The potential for a tornado that could be on the ground for many, many miles, creating a damage path that can be upwards of a kilometre wide and possibly on the ground for upwards of an hour or more," he explained during a telephone interview from Medicine Hat Monday morning.
He says the conditions are comparable to what was seen in Joplin, Missouri before a series of massively-damaging storms last year. He adds that the potential is so great that fellow storm chasers from the southern United States are converging on the Regina area with the expectation they'll see some activity.
"It's a little bit off the charts, so to speak," said Johnson.
John Paul Cragg is Environment Canada's severe weather specialist for Saskatchewan. He concedes that any severe thunderstorm could potentially create tornadoes. He insists, however, that it's impossible to predict with any accuracy what will happen a full day from now.
"We're looking at computer models; they are fallible. There is a chance that they're giving the wrong information or placing the severe weather in the wrong place," said Cragg.
He says that's why Environment Canada issues its storm watches three to six hours before an event, to ensure it can predict the location and severity as accurately as possible. Tornado warnings are generally issued between 10 and 20 minutes ahead of a possible formation.
Cragg's adamant those alerts should be the only ones people focus on.
"We're the only official body that should be putting out warnings or watches,"said Cragg.
Still, Cragg says a general warning that storms could be on the way isn't a bad thing. He feels it's good for people to ensure they have a plan in place for what to do if severe weather strikes.
Edited by CJME's Karen Brownlee.