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Tornadoes and hurricanes: when nature goes wild...

Tornadoes and hurricanes are characterized by violent winds accompanied by rains and storms. The cause of a wide range of damage and accidents, they are not to be taken lightly.

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Interactive Fujita scale

A Less Than Reassuring Distinction

Did you know Canada is the country with the second highest number of tornadoes in the world - no less than seventy? Happily, the majority of them are too weak to cause much damage !

However, these columns of air which turn counter clockwise and move in a swirling fashion above the earth can be very violent. Tornadoes are recognizable by funnel-shaped clouds rising out of storm clouds. They hit suddenly, at random, and often without warning. Their winds can reach 360 km/hour and cause serious damage.

To view a chart of the ten most serious tornadoes to have struck Canada, click here.

Tornadoes visit all Canadian provinces, but they are most often seen in the following regions:

  • Western Quebec
  • South and North-Eastern Ontario
  • South central Alberta
  • Southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba

Interactive Fujita scale

The Fujita scale is used to measure the intensity of tornadoes. Guide your mouse over the scale from 0 to 5 to see the damage caused.


Although Canada is not directly exposed to hurricanes, the east (from the Atlantic provinces to Lake Superior in Ontario) can experience effects in the form of violent winds and floods. In 1954, for example, Hurricane Hazel dumped 18 cm of rain in no time at all, causing floods and resulting in the death of 80 people.

A hurricane is, in fact, a tropical storm accompanied by winds which swirl around a low-pressure centre - the eye of the storm - at speeds reaching 120 km/hour. It can measure between 500 and 1000 km in diameter and last seven to nine days, depending on its path which is measured in thousands of kilometres. Its most destructive effect comes from the serious floods that it causes, because it can lead to a temporary sea level increase in a region.

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