Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Wicked Weather and Tornadoes Draw Storm Chasers to Saskatchewan

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Wicked Weather and Tornadoes Draw Storm Chasers to Saskatchewan

Article excerpt

Weather draws storm chasers to Saskatchewan


REGINA - The wind picks up and clouds begin to swirl ominously as a funnel cloud starts to form.

This isn't Kansas and Dorothy isn't about to be swept away to a magical land called Oz. It's a field in Saskatchewan, which storm chasers say is becoming an epicentre for prairie tornadoes this year.

"Storm chasers are going to go wherever the storms are," said Greg Johnson, a man dubbed the tornado hunter.

"People are saying, 'So why is everyone coming to Saskatchewan right now?' Well, because this is where the storms are. The jet stream is positioned correctly so that storms are going to happen in Saskatchewan."

Johnson, who lives in Regina, usually chases storms in the United States in states such as Oklahoma and Texas, where there are more opportunities for severe weather for a longer period of time. But this year, his home turf has been the hot spot.

Johnson and his team intercepted two tornadoes in rural Saskatchewan on Tuesday. Last week, on June 26, they caught another tornado near Moose Jaw. The chases are streamed live on his website

"This season in particular has been really busy in Saskatchewan. We've had more tornadoes than average," he said.

"Having said that, last year was extremely below average for tornadoes in Saskatchewan. We only had three recorded last year and on average Saskatchewan has 10 to 12.

"This is the thing about weather: it's fickle."

Johnson noted that Saskatchewan has had its share of tornadoes.

On July 2, 2010, an F3 tornado hit the Kawacatoose First Nation, 200 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon. The tornado destroyed more than a dozen homes on the reserve and in the nearby community of Raymore.

Environment Canada said the twister was about 500 metres wide, cut a path 45 kilometres long and may have been on the ground for as long as one hour. There were no fatalities.

"The reality is that they happen in Canada," said Johnson.

"They're equally as devastating, equally as dangerous and, frankly, equally as elusive. …

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