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
  • Hail
  • Rumbling or whistling sound
  • Funnel cloud at the base of a thunderstorm cloud

What to do before

Prepare an emergency kit.

Follow weather alerts This hyperlink will open in a new window. for your region.

Cut down and remove dead tree branches from your yard. If you have trees near electrical power lines, contact Hydro-Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window. or your local power company before clearing branches.

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.

Before setting out, check road conditions This hyperlink will open in a new window. on Québec 511 website or call 511.

Follow your municipality and Urgence Québec social media feeds and consult local media outlets for information about the current situation and steps to be taken.

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 and the weight of snow.
  • 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:

  • 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 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.

What to do after

If the authorities allow it and there is no risk to your safety, you can go home. It's best to go during the day, when problems and hazards are easier to see.

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.

Attention! Never approach a downed power line. Call 911 immediately. When a line touches the ground, the risk of live wire and nearby ground is high.

Make a list of the damage and take photos or videos as proof. Notify your municipality, insurance company and mortgage lender of the damage. For claim purposes, keep all receipts or proofs of purchase for damaged property.

If extensive work must be carried out before you can return to your home, secure the premises to keep away looters and curious bystanders:

  • Lock the doors
  • Barricade the windows
  • Cover damaged areas

Pay attention to stress reactions after a disaster:

  • Anxiety
  • Apathy or loss of energy
  • Aggressiveness
  • Increased alcohol or drug use

Appropriate psychological guidance can help you cope with responsibilities stemming from the situation. Contact Info-Santé at 811 and select Info-Social to speak with a social worker. This confidential service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.