Western University’s Northern Tornadoes Project (NTP) investigated 400 severe weather events in 2021, verifying 100 tornadoes across the country in 2021. This high impact research surged the verified count of tornadoes in Canada by an impressive 170 per cent.
Comparatively, NTP verified 77 tornadoes in 2020, which increased the verified count by 166 per cent.
Founded in 2017 as a partnership between Western and ImpactWX, NTP aims to better detect tornado occurrence throughout Canada, improve severe and extreme weather prediction, mitigate against harm to people and property, and investigate future implications due to climate change.
Gregory Kopp, ImpactWX chair in severe storms engineering at Western Engineering, said NTP’s tools and techniques to verify tornadoes in Canada has changed the landscape for extreme weather investigation. In fact, NTP launched the Northern Hail Project (NHP) last week, further strengthening the size and scope of their research across the country.
“We are detecting and documenting many tornadoes now that would have been missed in the past, and therefore getting a much clearer picture of the tornado climatology of the country, and the tornado risk in each region,” said Kopp, who also serves as NTP/NHP research lead. “Canadians also need better predictions for these events, particularly for public alerting, and our investigations are an important part of achieving that goal.”
All told, NTP conducted 340 planet satellite surveys, 52 ground surveys, 48 drone surveys and 18 aircraft surveys in 2021 – each establishing a new high-water mark for the research team.
Western works with Pelmorex-owned The Weather Network, University of Manitoba and York University, and closely collaborates with Environment and Climate Change Canada and several international universities on NTP. In 2021, NTP also forged partnerships with Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, Instant Weather and CatIQ.
“Teaming with researchers, industry partners and citizen scientists across Canada allows NTP greater access, greater coverage and most importantly, greater results,” said NTP executive director Davis Sills. “Last year was bigger and better than 2020, and we expect even more investigations in 2022 as the team grows and the pandemic protocols, hopefully, continue to lift.”
NTP also acquired more industry-defining drone technology in 2021, including a state-of-the-art Wingtra, which allows research engineer Connell Miller and field team investigators to capture higher quality images and video and more accurate damage survey data.
In 2021, the team also created a more user-friendly Open Data website, which experienced an increase in severe weather reporting from the public.
Beyond the severe weather event information posted to NTP’s Open Data website, the NTP released today the complete findings from its 2021 severe storm investigations in its Annual Report.