Saskatchewan is in the middle of summer storm season and there is a storm chaser at the heart of it all.
Ricky Forbes of Saskatoon stars in the show Tornado Chasers, and it chases some of the wildest storms in North America.
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“Spring and summer my life revolves around chasing these storms and tornadoes, and then the rest of the year I speak at schools and businesses talking about these storms,” Forbes said. “It’s a lot of fun. I love chasing storms.
While Forbes enjoys the thrill of the chase, it does it more for the safety.
“These are some of the wildest storms on the planet that we’re chasing,” he said.
“When you’re right next to these storms, there’s a lot of adrenaline, but that’s not really what we’re here for. We’re here to report on these storms, calling them into the community where these storms are found so that they can get to safety and document these storms.
And for many people in Saskatchewan, it may seem like there are a lot more storms this year than last. It is because there are.
As of July 25, Saskatchewan had experienced 18 tornadoes. For all of 2021, Saskatchewan had just six.
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“Over the past two years and especially last year, we have had warmer and drier than normal conditions in the province in addition to smoke,” said Environment and Climate Change Canada meteorologist Sara Hoffmann. “These three things combined really put a damper on the severe storms.”
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But while there has been a sharp increase in tornadoes from last year to now, that’s just average for historic Saskatchewan summers.
“The average we see tornadoes in Saskatchewan every year is about 17,” she said.
Last July, no tornadoes were reported in Saskatchewan. The last time this happened was in 1959.
In 2021, dry conditions didn’t allow for much moisture, a key ingredient in thunderstorms and tornadoes.
“Cold air wants to sink and warm air wants to rise,” Hoffman said. “It leads to a lot of turbulent mixing, and we call it atmospheric instability. Large atmospheric instability will lead to the formation of tornadoes.
As Saskatchewan heads into the second half of summer, it expects more extreme storms to continue as we enter a heat wave across the province.
Forbes and Hoffman both want to remind people to be cautious in a storm, pay attention to warnings in your area, and in the event of a tornado, find shelter and go to the lowest point.
Storm chaser Ricky Forbes on active weather in Saskatchewan
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