The summer storm season arrived in Saskatchewan with a bang last week, with multiple tornados reported near Regina which caused a small amount of damage.
"It was a significant storm and it's an interesting way to start the season," said storm chaser Greg Johnson. "It's a little bit earlier than normal, generally speaking, we don't see that kind of weather behaviour until June rolls around and this was kind of late to mid-May. So a little bit earlier than normal but not out of character."
He noted it's been a reasonably benign pattern in terms of the jet stream over Saskatchewan and North America.
"It was a very quiet May down in the United States, which was a little bit abnormal but as with all weather, you know that that can change basically from day to day. We are expecting a typical storm season on the Prairies. Frankly, there's a fair amount of moisture out there, particularly in the southeast and so there's a good chance that we could see ongoing thunderstorms for the next few weeks."
Johnson explained what makes Saskatchewan a hotspot for tornadic activity.
"One of the key ingredients with tornados is you need to have this collision of cold air mass and warm moist air mass. We've got this warm moist air mass, it's seasonably warm and moist. It's a little bit warmer than typical end-of-May temperatures. With that collision, you get these low pressure systems that come through the Prairies and on the north or the backside of this low pressure you generally tend to get some cold temperatures still this time of year and you have to have that collision of the cold air mass and the warm air mass and this is the time of year when those happen on the Prairies. Saskatchewan's perfectly positioned, far enough away from the mountains, close enough to the warm wet air masses that are coming out of the United States and so we're just in a good spot."
Johnson says, on average, Saskatchewan has 12 to 18 tornadoes every year. There were 25 investigated in 2022.
He encourages people to pay attention to their favourite weather app when storm systems approach.
"When you hear about a warning such as a tornado warning that we had last week, just take it seriously, go to the basement, get into the main floor bathroom if you think that there's a real risk out there. It's going to sound weird coming from me, but it's better to go to the basement than to pull your phone out and try to get pictures or video of the tornado."
Johnson is currently working on another book which is expected to be released at the end of October. He can also be heard on the Storm Front Freaks podcast.