With a tornado touching down outside Seattle Tuesday, the close proximity has Island residents wondering about the chances of one hitting Vancouver Island.
According to the Government of Canada’s Tornado Database for 1980 to 2009, B.C. had 15 tornadoes during those 29 years. Environment Canada has logged two since in B.C., one confirmed outside Quesnel in 2016 and one “possible” near Mission on Sept. 16.
We received reports & footage of a possible tornado near Hayward Lake (NW of Mission, BC) on the afternoon of Sept 16, 2018. After further investigation, there was evidence of rotation on Doppler radar suggesting a F0 tornado, however the status will remain "POSSIBLE". #BCstorm pic.twitter.com/McFz3rkdM9
— ECCC Weather British Columbia (@ECCCWeatherBC) September 18, 2018
No tornadoes have ever been officially recorded on Vancouver Island.
“The terrain is so complex and inconsistent on Vancouver Island. It tends to destroy the systems needed to create a tornado,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist. “I don’t think it is impossible, but we may not see it in our lifetime.”
The Island and coastal B.C. do get water spouts, a rotating column of water and spray – that look similar to a tornado –formed when the atmosphere is unstable from cold air moving over warm water, said Lundquist.
“They can be as strong as a very weak tornado, with much more minor damage.”
Tornadoes prefer flatter landscape. In B.C., the two hot spots are the Central Interior and Peace Country, according to Lundquist, but nothing compared to the Prairies and southern Ontario which see the majority of tornadoes in Canada.
In the same 29 year period from 1980 to 2009, Alberta had 456, Saskatchewan 529, Manitoba 283 and Ontario 378.
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