Storm chasers from across North America made their way to the southeast pocket of Saskatchewan.
A storm brewing in the region on Thursday had the potential to create a tornado.
Tornado Hunter, Greg Johnson, who calls Regina home said he was making his way to the grain belt Thursday afternoon.
“It’s almost like a backyard chase today so it’s kind of an interesting day,” Johnson said.
He added most of the overcast and grim looking clouds appearing around 2:30 p.m. were just the start of something bigger.
“Then what we’re looking at (for later) is a potential round of tornado producing storms really from about the area around Estevan right across the U.S. border region and then over into Manitoba,” Johnson said. “So if you’re within 50 or 100 miles of the U.S. border down in the southeast corner I’d say there’s a chance for about baseball size hail stones today along with the big one — being a tornado.”
Johnson said tornadoes in general are extremely rare but just like what the National Weather Centre in the U.S. said along with Environment Canada, Thursday’s storm had all the ingredients for a potentially damaging storm.
“It’s certainly different from the typical thunderstorm that rolls across the prairies.”
Along with his tornado hunting crew, Johnson said there will be plenty of storm chasers in the area as they predict the system to be something worth driving the distance for.
“This is such a high-end event that if we were in Oklahoma or Kansas people would be traveling from all over North America to go there and they’re doing the same thing right now (in Saskatchewan),” he said. “So my guess is the Carnduff cafe and the restaurants in Estevan will be filled up with storm chasing vehicles and people that have travelled from very long distances to stop and maybe get a glimpse of a tornado.”
Johnson will be the first to admit that he would never tell someone not to chase storms; however, he said a person needs to be aware of the risks.
While chasing storms, his team drives bulletproof trucks with roll cages and a live, real-time Doppler radar system.
“I never begrudged anyone from wanting to experience (chasing storms) however, that being said, you know if you’re not really sure what you’re getting into, you are putting yourself at risk,” he said. “Essentially it’s about having situational awareness and when you are uncomfortable then you should leave the area.”
When it comes to people living in the area where a storm is headed, Johnson recommended downloading the Sask. alert app and to listen to local radio stations like 980 CJME.
“Tornado sirens don’t go off in towns in Canada but we do get great information from folks like you (980 CJME), and the Environment Canada website,” Johnson said adding days like Thursday — and any storm for that matter — should always be taken seriously.