Weather Preparedness

Extreme Winter Weather

Extreme Summer Weather

Extreme Heat

Special Weather Statements, Watches, and Warnings

Weather Alerts

Canadian Weather Amateur Radio Network (CANWARN)

Environment Canada's volunteer weather spotting program.

The programme began with the amateur radio community in Windsor in 1987. In 2003, in Ontario, the CANWARN programme merged the existing members involved in amateur radio with other volunteer weather spotters from all walks of life. CANWARN storm spotters watch the skies and report occurrences of severe storms directly to Environment Canada. Free training sessions for interested parties are held each spring across the province.  Visit CANWARN to learn more about local training sessions.


Extreme Winter Weather

Freezing Rain

Freezing rain may be accompanied by strong winds and can have devastating effects, including: disrupted communications and power supplies, hazardous roadways and sidewalks, damage to roofs, damage to forests and urban trees, and social and economic disruption.


Sleet (commonly referred to in Canada as "ice pellets") is similar to hail, only smaller, and can be identified as raindrops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects; however, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorists.

Ice Storm

An ice storm occurs when moisture falls and freezes immediately upon impact, producing significant and possibly damaging accumulations of ice (usually greater than with ¼ inch). Ice storms are also commonly referred to as "freezing rain events."


A snowstorm is a period of rapid accumulation of snow, often accompanied by high winds, cold temperatures, and low visibility.


The most violent winter storm, a blizzard combines strong winds with cold temperatures and blowing or drifting snow, and can reduce visibility to zero.

Winter driving tips:

  • Give yourself extra time, and adjust speed for road conditions; it takes longer to stop on snow-covered roads.
  • Snow tires are more effective than all-season tires for driving in winter weather.
  • Let a friend or family member know where you are going and your route.
  • Clear all snow and ice from your vehicle before leaving.
  • Assemble or purchase an emergency car kit.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Carry a fully-charged cell phone.

Assemble an Emergency Car Kit:

  • Shovel
  • Sand or Kitty Litter
  • Cloth or Paper Towels
  • Warning Lights or Flares
  • Extra Clothing and/or Footwear
  • Emergency Food Pack - 72 Hours
  • Ice Scraper/ Brush
  • Methyl Hydrate (De- Icing Fuel Lines)
  • Matches and a Survival Candle in Deep can (To warm hands, Heat a drink, Emergency light)
  • First Aid Kit with Seatbelt Cutter
  • Traction Mats or Chains
  • Road Maps
  • Blanket
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Flashlight and Batteries
  • Booster Cables

Electrical Safety Authority Tip

The Electrical Safety Authority has also developed a tip sheet of important safety tips for residents to help protect themselves, their families and their property against potential electrical safety hazards, such as flooding and downed powerlines, that can occur during extreme winter weather.

View the ESA Winter Storm Safety Tips

Extreme Summer Weather


A thunderstorm forms in air that has three components: moisture, instability and something that causes the air to rise, such as a cold front. The thunderstorm is one of the most familiar and characteristic of extreme summer weather across Wellington County. Torrential rain, violent winds, and damaging hail may accompany the thunderstorm, and if it is severe enough, tornadoes may occur. High winds, rainfall, and a darkening cloud cover are the warning signs for possible cloud-to-ground lightning strikes.

If a thunderstorm is likely in your area:

  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard-top automobile (not a convertible).
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.


A tornado is a violent windstorm characterized by a twisting, funnel-shaped cloud. It is spawned by a thunderstorm (or sometimes as a result of a hurricane) and produced when cool air overrides a layer of warm air, forcing the warm air to rise rapidly. The damage from a tornado is a result of the high wind velocity and wind-blown debris.

Weak tornadoes are brief events, causing only limited damage. This form of 'simple' rotation tornado accounts for most funnel sightings in Ontario. The much stronger tornado occurs with supercells. The updraft becomes a rotating column within the cloud that can be seen at the bottom as a rotating wall cloud. A very big supercell tornado can be over a kilometre in diameter, with winds reaching 200-300 km/h in the separate vortices swirling around the perimeter of a rotating wall cloud that has descended to the ground.

If a tornado is possible in your area:

  • If you are at home, go to the basement or take shelter in a small interior ground-level room such as a bathroom, closet or hallway, or protect yourself by taking shelter under a heavy table or desk. Stay away from windows and outside walls and doors.
  • If you are in an office or apartment building, take shelter in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or the ground floor. Do not use the elevator and stay away from windows. Avoid buildings with free-span roofs - shopping malls, gymnasiums, churches and auditoriums. If you are caught in this type of building, quickly find shelter in a small interior room, like a washroom.
  • If you are driving and spot a tornado in the distance, try to get to nearby shelter. If the tornado is close by, get out of your car and take cover in a low-lying area, away from cars and mobile homes. Get as close to the ground as possible, protect your head and watch for flying debris. Even the smallest objects can become lethal weapons when driven by a tornado's force.
  • If necessary, take shelter under an overpass on a freeway. Crawl right up the bank to where it meets the overpass.

Wind Storms

Windstorms are often spawned by thunderstorms or other severe winter or summer storm events. Heavy winds in excess of 100 km/h are usually associated with thunderstorms, squall lines, frontal passages, and strong low-pressure systems. The impact of wind storms can disrupt and devastate communities. In addition to property damage and personal injuries, residents should be prepared to cope with loss of heat or electricity and blocked roadways from fallen trees and debris.

Extreme Heat

The combination of high heat, high humidity, and exposure to the sun's UV rays can be hazardous to your health. It's important to prepare for hot weather to help prevent heat-related illness and death. Read below to find out what you can do to protect yourself and others.

Find out what air-conditioned places you can go to in your neighbourhood to stay cool. Try libraries, galleries, malls, or community centres.

Have indoor back-up plans for outdoor summer activities. There are plenty of fun things to do indoors to stay cool during extreme heat. Go see a movie at a nearby theatre, head to a shopping mall or curl up with a good book at your local library.

During times of high heat and humidity:

  • Stay out of the sun
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or juice
  • Schedule strenuous outdoor activities for the early morning or evening hours
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing
  • Spend as much time as possible in air-conditioned places
  • Never leave people or pets in your care inside a parked vehicle or in direct sunlight
  • Call or visit family, friends and neighbours to make sure they are okay, especially isolated adults and seniors, who are at greater risk of suffering from heat-related illness

For more information on protecting yourself during extreme heat events go to the Health Canada website.

Special Weather Statements, Watches, and Warnings

Wellington County is no stranger to severe weather conditions. To help you be better prepared for bad weather and to respond when needed, Environment Canada monitors and forecasts the weather 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Environment Canada issues Special Weather Statements, Weather Watches and Weather Warnings to make the public aware of significant weather.

Special Weather Statements

Weather conditions may cause general inconvenience or concern but are not expected to pose a serious enough threat to issue a weather warning. Statements may also be issued a couple of days in advance to inform the public of a possible severe weather situation.


Weather conditions are favourable for the possible development of some form of bad weather. When a watch is issued the public should look for updates on the internet, radio or television.


Severe weather is occurring or may soon occur. Severe thunderstorm or tornado warnings may be issued less than an hour in advance.

For more information on special weather statements, watches, and warnings go to the Environment Canada website.

Weather Alerts

Environment Canada's Meteorological Service broadcasts weather and environmental information 24 hours a day, in both official languages, on seven dedicated frequencies within the VHF public service band. These broadcasts are delivered through television and radio, and via weather radios.

Receive important weather alerts with a weather radio

Environment Canada's Meteorological Service broadcasts permit the transmission of a tone and Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) codes ahead of a warning message that will activate a Weatheradio receiver and alert you to an incoming important message. An enhanced model of Weatheradio receiver will screen out warnings that don't apply to your local area, alerting you only for pre-programmed events. A Weatheradio kept in your bedroom, for instance, could be programmed to awaken you should a tornado warning be issued for your area.

Where to buy a weather radio

Weather radios can be purchased at many retailers across the County including hardware stores, electronics retailers, and most outlets carrying outdoor equipment.

Follow this link to learn more about weather radios and Environment Canada's Weatheradio service

© 2023 County of Wellington, 74 Woolwich St. Guelph, Ontario N1H 3T9, T 519.837.2600, TF 1.800.663.0750, F 519.837.1909