An Environment Canada meteorologist breaks down how to stay safe when extreme weather such as thunderstorms or tornados occurs.
"We like to use the cupcake analogy for watches and warnings," says Terri Lang, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada. "When we talk about a watch, whether it be a severe thunderstorm or tornado, that means all the ingredients are there to make a severe thunderstorm or tornado. When we have a warning, it means all the conditions have come together and that thunderstorms or tornados are imminent or occurring."
Manitoba has already had a few tornado watches this summer, and quite a few severe thunderstorm warnings.
"The biggest thing people can do is have situational awareness. Knowing that the possibility exists for severe weather and a way to receive the alert. If you're out at the cottage, have a phone that will push warnings to you. A radio, TV, have a way for receiving these."
Being prepared for the potential of severe weather conditions is half the battle.
"There's no safe place outside during a thunderstorm. Lightning kills and injures more Canadians every year than tornados do. You need to immediately come into shelter, being a vehicle or house/cottage but make sure it's enclosed."
Lang says studies show that one-third of people that have died during a severe thunderstorm happen before the storm and a third die right after.
"People aren't seeking shelter soon enough and they're coming out too soon after the storm. Seek shelter and stay in shelter until the storm is well passed. If things start turning violent, strong winds, and hail, you need to be inside and get into an interior room. Preferably if you have a basement away from windows and doors, and this applies to tornados as well. Closets, bathrooms or crawl space also work."
Lang sheds light on a common myth about vehicles during lightning storms.
"You're very safe in your car. People think it's because the tires are rubber and that's not true. What happens with the charge, it's called the Faraday Cage effect, meaning the charge goes around the outside of the car and exits into the ground. Often it'll blow out the tires, sometimes the electrical system but you're much safer inside than outside your car. Once it's struck, it doesn't carry a charge."
The main piece of advice that has been given for years is that when you can hear thunder and see lightning, that is the time to seek shelter.
"When thunder roars, go indoors."