Tornadoes: 1912 'Regina Cyclone'
A tornado is the stuff of nightmares. Amid heavy rain and hail, huge thunderclouds roll in and the skies turn greenish-black. And then a rope-like funnel cloud punches down, smashing everything in its path. Tornadoes can be the most violent storms on earth, and Canada averages 80 of them each year. From scientists and storm chasers obsessed with their destructive power to the victims left in a twister's wake, we look at Canada's deadliest tornadoes of the past century.
. In the United States, the highest number of tornadoes occur in "Tornado Alley" (which includes parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska) as well as in west central Florida and an area south of Lake Michigan.
. According to the BBC, the United Kingdom is actually the most tornado-prone nation in the world. This is based on the number of yearly tornadoes per square kilometre. The United Kingdom has 33 twisters a year in an area almost 40 times smaller than the United States, which experiences about 800 a year.
. Other world tornado hot spots include Argentina, Australia, Europe, northern India, New Zealand, South Africa and Uruguay.
. The terms "cyclone" and "tornado" are often used interchangeably to indicate violent storms affecting a limited area, usually with circular wind motions.
. The word "tornado" is believed to come from the Spanish tronada ("thunderstorm") and has been used in English since the 16th century. "Cyclone" is more recent; the Oxford English Dictionary says the term was introduced in 1848 by H. Piddington, "as a general term for all storms or atmospheric disturbances in which the wind has a circular or whirling course." "Twister" is an informal word for a tornado.
. In 1912, Regina was a booming city. A constant influx of new settlers from Eastern Canada and Europe made the city of 10,000 the fastest-growing in the area.
. The June 30, 1912, tornado destroyed farms in the southeast, tore through residential areas and downtown, the warehouse district and the railway district. Most major municipal buildings were damaged or destroyed.
. According to some sources, Regina Cyclone winds reached speeds of up to 800 km/h.
. At the time, the Regina cyclone was the worst disaster in Canadian history. Though it passed through the city in just three minutes it caused more than $1.2 million in property damage (about $25 million in 2005 dollars).
. Actor Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, The Mummy) who was travelling in the Regina area, was canoeing west of the city when the tornado struck. He returned to find his accommodations destroyed. Karloff soon organized a benefit concert for the city's victims.
. The tale of Bruce Langton's aerial canoe ride is the most famous of the many strange stories emerging from the 1912 Regina Cyclone. Langton, 12, and friend Philip Steele were canoeing on Wascana Lake when the tornado hit. As they paddled for shore, the funnel lifted the canoe right out of the water. Steele was hurled from the canoe and killed instantly. Langton held on and was deposited, still in his canoe, in a park hundreds of metres away, still gripping his paddle.
. In the wake of the tornado, the city of Regina undertook a rapid reconstruction effort, assisted by surrounding communities and the federal and provincial governments. Regina was rebuilt quickly but it took 10 years for the city to pay off its storm debt. The province of Saskatchewan remained in debt until 1958.
Broadcast Date: Oct. 27, 1976
Guest(s): Allan Anderson, Betty Tomlinson
Host: Harry Brown, Maxine Crook
Photo: Library and Archives Canada / C-033275
Last updated: March 28, 2012
Page consulted on December 5, 2013
All Clips from this Topic
Death, looting and a frightened "little war bride" in the wake of a te...
Eyewitnesses and a meteorologist describe a major tornado in southwest...
A 1957 ride-along with a storm chaser in the U.S. tornado belt.
A community pulls together after a rare tornado strike in northern Ont...
A radio report from the scene of the Canada's seventh deadliest tornad...
Strange stories of death and survival from the deadliest tornado in Ca...
Bob McDonald explains wind, storms, hurricanes and how tornadoes are f...
When farms are destroyed, modern-day Good Samaritans arrive with aid.
From Friday's terror in the darkness to Sunday's prayers in church, 48...
How much are all your possessions worth?
A documentary look at a family's six-month effort to piece their lives...
Canada's deadliest tornado in 75 years kills 27 and injures hundreds.
An unlucky farmer has his barn ripped apart by two tornadoes a year ap...
A tornado damages at least 70 per cent of a small town.
The Fighting Prairie Weather Dogs hunt down Canada's worst weather.
We have radar, satellites, observers and transmitters, but never enoug...
An Alberta campground is wiped out, and rescuers can't tell how many p...
A tornado is the stuff of nightmares. Amid heavy rain and hail, huge t...