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
What to do before
Prepare an emergency kit .
Prepare a family safety plan .
Follow weather alerts for your region.
Cut down and remove dead tree branches from your yard. If you have trees near electrical power lines, contact Hydro-Québec 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. If you absolutely have to travel, check road conditions 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.
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:
- 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 your safety is not jeopardized, you may return to your home, preferably during the day, when problems and hazards are easier to see. Consult the page Reintegration for safety tips and recommendations.
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.
Never approach a downed power line. Call 911 immediately. There is a high risk that the line is live and that the nearby ground is electrified.
When you arrive, take pictures or videos to document the damage to your home and notify your insurer.
If extensive work must be carried out before you can return to your home, increase the security to keep away looters and inquisitive individuals:
- lock the doors
- barricade the windows
- cover damaged areas
Pay attention to your reactions after a disaster:
- lack of interest or energy, aggression
- 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.
Last update: June 5, 2020