York Region

YORKREGION.COM

Isabel could bring tornadoes to region

Sep 18, 2003
Roger Varley

It is possible the winds expected to hit the GTA tomorrow as the remnants of Hurricane Isabel move into Ontario could be more severe than the gusts of 70 km/h being predicted.

Dan Wexler of Thornhill, a certified weather spotter and storm chaser, said today there could be gusts as high as 90 km/h, with a possibility of tornadoes. He said Environment Canada is not issuing warnings yet because they don't want to cause unnecessary worry.

"It's not that they're keeping information from the public, but they don't want to panic them," Mr. Wexler said. "I imagine Environment Canada will start putting out weather watches the closer Isabel gets. Warnings, in general, aren't given out until a few hours in advance."

Mr. Wexler said the intensity of the winds in the region tomorrow will depend on when and where Isabel meets with a cold front currently moving over Lake Superior.

"If they meet at the right time," he said, "that could make it worse and possibly lead to tornadoes."

Mr. Wexler, a member of the Canada Weather Amateur Radio Network -- a group of radio hams who share weather information with Environment Canada -- said Isabel's winds could pick up speed once she crosses the mountains in Tennessee.

"We're watching for where what would have been the eye of the hurricane comes into Ontario," he said. "Areas to the east and west will get most of the hit."

For his part, he watches and chases storm in his truck -- (licence plate STRMCHSR) -- which is equipped with two UHF and VHF amateur radio sets, a portable ham radio, CB radio, cell phone, scanners, weather radio, video camera clamped inside his windshield, two still cameras, laptop computer with Internet access and global positioning system, 700-watt power inverter and emergency equipment. He also has an array of maps.

Mr. Wexler said he received a telephone call this morning from colleagues who travelled into the U.S. to observe the hurricane in North Carolina.

"They're having a great time," he said.