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​Tornadoes

This page contains information about tornado warnings, how the municipality is prepared, and tips on protecting your home and being prepared, including what to do during a tornado.

Canada has more tornadoes than any other country except for the United States. Tornadoes can happen any time of year, but are most likely to occur from April to September with peak months in June and July. Tornadoes usually hit in the afternoon and early evening, but they can happen at night too.

Warning signs include:

  • severe thunderstorms with thunder and lightning
  • an extremely dark sky, sometimes with green or yellow clouds
  • a rumbling or whistling sound
  • a funnel cloud at the rear base of a thundercloud, often behind a curtain of heavy rain or hail

Barrie has experienced two major tornados, in May 1985 and in July 2021.

Canada's Tornado Warning System

Environment Canada issues warnings when conditions exist that may produce tornadoes. It does this through mobile device alerts, radio, television, and the Environment Canada website.

Municipal Preparedness

The City of Barrie's Emergency Plan establishes an emergency management structure and emergency response guidelines for the City, and related emergency agencies, in the event of a major emergency that is beyond the normal response capabilities of the municipality.

Protecting your Home

While homeowners cannot predict tornadoes and severe storms, they can take steps to protect themselves and minimize damage to their homes. Check with your insurance company—they can provide the best advice in terms of mitigating losses. The most vulnerable areas of a home are the roof, exterior walls and windows.

  1. Talk to your insurance agent or broker
    Ensure you understand what types of damage are covered under your insurance policy. Sometimes specific types of damage can be excluded depending on your policy. Insurers can also identify common sources of damage in your subdivision that you should watch out for.

  2. Have a home inspector or structural engineers evaluate your home
    These professionals can provide important information about your home's capacity to resist extreme winds.

  3. Take steps to strengthen your home by considering the following:
    • Install hail-resistant shingles
    • Install hurricane shutters
    • Install shatter-resistant window film
    • Ensure ridge vents and soffits are tightly connected to the roof
    • All doors, including the garage door, should be pressure and impact rated
    • Install backflow valves to prevent toilet overflows when the household sewer system is infiltrated with floodwater
    • Anchor bookshelves and cabinets to walls
    • Secure outdoor items that can become projectiles in high winds
    • Make sure any dead trees, branches and bushes are removed from your property

Please note: There are things that can be done to strengthen an existing house, but it is very difficult to make a house tornado proof. The above are suggestions to help strengthen a home and help protect it from severe storms, but taking these steps may not eliminate all damage. 

During a Tornado

Be aware of weather conditions and warnings, and seek shelter immediately if a warning has been issued. If a tornado is happening, here are steps to take to protect yourself and your family:

  • The safest place to be is a basement. If you don't have a basement, go to the centre of an interior room on the lowest level away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls.
  • Get under a sturdy piece of furniture — use your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • Don't open windows.
  • If you are in an office or apartment, take shelter in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or on the ground floor. Don't use the elevator and stay away from windows.
  • If you're in a car, get out of your car and take cover in a low-lying area, such as a ditch. If you spot a tornado in the distance, go to the nearest building.
  • If you're outdoors, lie flat in a ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Don't go under an overpass or bridge.
  • Practice tornado drills as a family to make sure everyone knows where to go and what to do if a tornado is coming.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

Emergencies can happen at any time and without warning. Make a plan, build a kit and be informed. In addition to the emergency preparedness information contained on this website, below are some helpful resources:

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