PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s a photo that’s all over social media – a man in Canada who continues to mow the grass with a tornado off in the background.
But Matthew Kramar, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says don’t try that in our area.
The man in Alberta, Canada, said he was keeping an eye on the twister. His wife posted the picture on Facebook, but he says the tornado was actually farther away than it appeared.
“Tornadoes happen with some frequency there,” said Kramar, who says it’s a different danger in the Pittsburgh region.
“A photo like that might encourage someone to disregard their own safety in order to get a great picture for social media,” said Kramar.
He says in Alberta, you can see where a tornado is coming and going. It’s not hailing or raining on you. And he says the one pictured was probably moving very slowly.
By contrast, in our area: “Odds are you’re not going to see it until it’s on you here, so if you’re waiting to see it, you’re too late.”
He says our hills, trees and humidity generally make them difficult to see here. However, KDKA’s camera did capture a tornado hitting Mount Washington in June of 1998.
“Tornadoes form very quickly and potentially with little warning, especially in Pennsylvania,” said Kramar.
On May 31, 1985, a tornado hit Big Beaver and then part of Butler County, killing nine people. The same day near Erie, a tornado flattened the town of Albion killing 12.
It was March 2011 when a tornado hit Fort Allen in Westmoreland County, destroying 30 homes.
“We issue a tornado warning for a reason,” said Kramar.
He says you have just minutes to react, and while the guy in Canada may have been able to keep an eye on the storm, don’t think you can.
“Somebody is going to get injured or killed because they did not heed the appropriate warning,” said Kramar.
He says tornadoes in our area typically develop quickly and end quickly and can cause damage in a matter of seconds.