In Québec, windstorms refer to winds that:
- blow at 60 km/h or more for at least one hour
- gust at 90 km/h or more
They may be associated with low-pressure systems or local meteorological events, and they can cause significant damage.
Tornadoes are rotating columns of high winds of up to 70 km/h. They can change paths abruptly, making them highly destructive.
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
- Rumbling or whistling sound
- Funnel cloud at the base of a thunderstorm cloud
In an emergency or a disaster, you are the first person responsible for your safety (French only) and that of your family, as well as safeguarding your property. In the event of a disaster, however, municipalities are responsible for helping the people affected and for taking the necessary measures.
When a municipality's response capacity is insufficient, the Gouvernement du Québec provides assistance (French only) by deploying government resources to facilitate the return to normal, based on what is provided for in Québec’s national civil protection plan.
In the event of a windstorm or tornado alert
Store or tie down anything the wind might carry away (garden furniture, barbecue, garbage cans, satellite dish, etc.).
Postpone all unnecessary travel.
Leave your home if you are in danger or at the request of the authorities. If you are unsure where to go, contact your municipality. For more details, consult the government’s Evacuate your home page.
What to do during
If you are indoors:
- Step away from doors and windows.
- Bring all the members of your family together in a safe location such as a basement, a bathroom, a corridor, a closet, or under a heavy piece of furniture.
- Do not use the elevator if you live in an apartment building.
- Leave your mobile home, as it could be swept away by the wind or tornado.
If you are outdoors:
- Take cover in a secure building with a sturdy roof that can withstand the force of wind.
- If you are in an open area and no shelter is available, take cover in a ditch or a depression in the ground. Lay face down on the ground and protect your head with your hands.
- Protect yourself from objects that could be projected by the wind.
- Take special precautions if you live near the shore, as high winds can create large waves. Never go near the water to watch a storm.
- Follow the evolution of the situation and respect the instructions given by official sources of information (for example, your municipality, the Gouvernement du Québec).
The following places do not provide adequate shelter:
- 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 immediately and find a safe shelter.
Never approach a tornado. Just the opposite, get away from it and protect yourself from it.
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.
Make sure that your home is safe. Never go into a building that has been damaged by wind.
Inspect the premises for damage (roof, shed, debris scattered by the wind).
Pick up debris. Watch out for sharp material such as sheet metal and glass.
Pay attention to your reactions and those of your loved ones after experiencing a disaster:
- Anxiety, distress or frequent crying
- Apathy or loss of energy
- Difficulty concentrating or confusion
- Increased alcohol or drug use
Psychosocial support is available to you. Psychosocial intervention professionals are available to support, advise and direct you to resources tailored to your needs or those of your loved ones. Call Info-Social, at 811, and select option 2 to speak with a professional. This service is free and confidential, and it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For more information on the possible reactions after a disaster and on ways to help you, see the Getting better following a disaster page.
Last update: May 16, 2022