Severe summer weather

Information on how to stay safe during severe weather events in the summer.

Play it safe

Outdoors, we are especially vulnerable to severe weather conditions in nature or in open areas. When enjoying outdoor sports or activities we need to know the weather forecast and be aware of the possibility of a storm developing. We should also be able to recognize the early signs of bad weather and know how to protect ourselves. If the sky darkens suddenly, seek shelter as soon as possible.

Lightning is the most common danger associated with storms. Lightning is an electrical discharge that can reach 10,000 amperes, striking the ground at about 40,000 kilometres per second. It always seeks the easiest path to the ground. As soon as you see lightning or hear thunder, you should find shelter. Storms also generate very strong winds, hail, heavy rain, and sometimes even tornadoes.

To be safe outdoors, you must be familiar with your immediate environment and the surrounding area. By taking note of safe locations to take cover, you will be able to find shelter fast if the sky darkens and you notice thunder or lightning. Do not forget that a storm can develop very quickly and you need to be able to take cover in as little as 30 minutes or significantly less time in many occasions. 

Practical advice in case of bad weather

Storm, lightning, strong winds, hail, tornado

  • If you are in a tent or camper, take cover in a building such as a comfort station, washroom or community hall, or get into a hardtop vehicle
  • If there is no building close by, crouch down in a ditch or other low-lying area and cover your head with your arms
  • In the event of a tornado, leave your car immediately as the violent wind could easily flip it over
    • If there is no sturdy building nearby to protect you, lie flat in a ditch, ravine or other low-lying area, and protect your head with your arms
    • Beware of flying debris
  • If you are in the water or on a boat, return to shore at the first sign of bad weather and take cover
  • Wait for 30 minutes after the storm has passed before returning to an open area or to the water

Heavy rain, flash flooding

  • Do not camp too close to streams or rivers because heavy rain may cause the water level to rise quickly
  • Never cross flooded streams or rivers because the undercurrent might carry you downstream
  • In the event of flash flooding, head to higher ground immediately

Learn to be safe

To better enjoy outdoor activities and to be able to protect yourself, you should keep informed of the latest weather reports and alerts in effect issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada. Various tools provide access to this information anytime, anywhere, even along your route.

Weather forecasts and alerts issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on its weather website, where you can subscribe to the RSS service. In addition to being available from the local media, you can obtain local weather conditions using a hotline for recorded information in your area. You can also contact an Environment and Climate Change Canada expert seven days a week at the weather consultation service Weather One-on-One: 1-888-292-2222.

The Weatheradio Canada network broadcasts continuous weather reports on seven VHF frequencies at 162 MHz. The signal can be picked up by Weatheradio receivers, which are available for purchase from several retailers in Canada. At selected locations, low power broadcasts are transmitted on the regular FM or AM band. A Weatheradio receiver is not required to hear these broadcasts. For more information, visit the Weatheradio website.

For more information on hazardous weather conditions and how to protect yourself, visit Environment and Climate Change Canada.

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