Thursday, 9 August 2012

The importance of remembering the possible effects of severe weather

The importance of remembering the possible effects of severe weather

Bobby Roy

The Extra Point

This summer, especially the month of July, has been marked with severe storm after severe storm hammering the capital region.

As someone who is born and raised in the Edmonton region, the F-4 tornado that slammed the city on July 31, 1987 isn’t a memory of mine, since I was only born six months earlier, but is a news event that I have done plenty of reading on.

For the Edmontonians who lived and were affected by the ferocious tornado that took the lives of 27 people, injuring more than 300, destroyed countless properties and caused more than $300 million in damage, it’s an event they never want to see again.

I find weather very fascinating, especially severe weather like thunderstorms and tornadoes, so when nasty weather is forecasted and begins to happen, I like to keep on top of anything that’s happening in the skies. As far as my memory goes back I can’t remember a summer like this one that’s had so many tornado warnings been issued in the province, especially in the capital region.

On July 23, tornado warnings were issued for Edmonton’s neighbouring communities of Beaumont, Leduc and other portions of Leduc County. No tornado was reported to have touched down, but the dark, ominous clouds surely reminded those who lived through the 1987 tornado that it could happen again. Tornado warnings were also issued on July 30 near Olds, Sundre and east of Edmonton. Thankfully, no tornadoes touched down, but with the anniversary of Black Friday the day after, I’m sure memories of that tornado were fresh as warnings popped up around the capital region on July 30.

The frequent amount of tornado warnings is unusual as Alberta only averages 10 tornadoes a year, with just one having the possibility of reaching violent proportions.

Dr. Harold Brooks, a U.S. researcher on tornadoes, reported in one study the odds of a violent tornado hitting Alberta is about once in every 40,000 years.

The odds of Edmonton, Devon, Leduc or Beaumont getting hit by a veracious tornado is slim, but with the recent string of violent weather hitting the region, it feels like those odds increase dramatically even if they actually don’t.

Whenever severe weather starts bubbling up, it’s usually the top story of the day and with popularity of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, when severe weather happens, it’s usually the hot topic of conversation.

It’s fascinating to see how Mother Nature can cook up such violent storms, but it’s more important to remember the possible damage and what effect they can have on people’s livelihoods.

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