Experts note that in 2022, Canada matched its all-time tornado record

Experts from Western University’s Northern Tornadoes Project (NTP) confirmed this month that 117 tornadoes made landfall across Canada in 2022, equaling the all-time tornado record set just a year earlier.

However, the record is in the book with an asterisk. It’s not quite as if Canada had more tornadoes in 2022 and 2021 than ever before — scientists are just better than ever at finding evidence of tornadoes that would have gone unnoticed just a few years ago.

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Crews searched imagery collected by satellites and drones, flew airplanes over suspected tornado paths, and inspected damage firsthand to document every tornado that made landfall in Canada in 2022.

(NTP) Tornado damage in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan on June 29, 2022

(NTP) Tornado damage in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan on June 29, 2022

Tornado damage in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan on June 29, 2022 (Northern Tornadoes Project)

After nearly 500 surveys, the NTP found that 117 tornadoes made landfall in Canada last year, tying the record set in 2021.

While most tornadoes targeted Ontario and Quebec, last year’s storm activity marked a return to normal on the prairies after an unusually quiet 2021 produced only a handful of tornadoes in the center of the country.

Ontario led the pack with 51 tornadoes, followed by Quebec’s 26 tornadoes. Another 25 were founded in Saskatchewan, including eight in Alberta and six in Manitoba. Another tornado made landfall in northwest New Brunswick.

Some tornadoes were significant

Surveyors estimate a tornado’s maximum winds based on the damage it causes. Certain levels of damage to trees and structures may allow scientists to estimate tornado wind speeds at that location.

Most tornadoes in 2022 were on the weaker side, causing little or no damage. However, 29 of those tornadoes caused significant damage and received an EF-2 rating on the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale. EF-2 tornadoes have estimated wind speeds of 180-220 km/h.

(NTP) Tornado damage Actinolite, Ontario, July 24, 2022

(NTP) Tornado damage Actinolite, Ontario, July 24, 2022

Drone imagery of damage in Actinolite, Ontario from the EF-2 tornado that hit July 24, 2022. (Northern Tornadoes Project)

One of the year’s worst tornadoes made landfall in southern Ontario on the evening of July 24, cutting a 55-kilometer path along Highway 7 between Belmont Lake and Actinolite, northeast of Peterborough.

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The EF-2 tornado caused extensive damage in Actinolite and injured several people in its path, “including a pickup truck that fell approximately 25 m” and “an occupied trailer overturned and a vehicle was damaged by debris,” according to the NTP investigation of the storm.

Tornadoes that do no damage are given an EF-0 rating by default. 41 tornadoes left no damage in the past year, according to NTP data, and received this failure rating.

WATCH: Northern Tornadoes Project is searching for every hurricane in Canada

Click here to watch the video

The result is an important step for Canadian tornado research

It may seem counterintuitive, but this result is an encouraging step in the field of tornado research in Canada.

It is very likely that many more tornadoes land in remote parts of Canada than are officially recorded each year.

The country’s enormous size — the second largest in the world — makes it difficult to count the actual number of tornadoes that make landfall in any given year.

According to his release, NTP experts estimate that Canada’s true annual tornado count is about 150 tornadoes in an average year.

“It appears that the number of ‘missing tornadoes’ in Canada is gradually decreasing due to the NTP’s ever-improving efforts,” said David Sills, executive director of the NTP.

Thumbnail courtesy of Beth J in Leslieville, Alberta.


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