Tornado Safety Tips

A Tornado is only one of nature’s most powerful and destructive forces. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. They may strike quickly, with little or no warning. Tornadoes develop so rapidly that little advance warning is possible. The average tornado moves Southwest to Northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction. The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph, but may vary from stationary to 70 mph with whirling winds that can reach 300+ miles per hour. Tornado intensities are classified on the Fujita Scale with ratings between F0 (weakest) to F5 (strongest). Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long.  Tornadoes kill about 60 people every year in the United States when uprooted trees and debris turn into deadly missiles. Here’s some tips on how to prepare for a tornado and what to do if you’re caught in a it’s path.

Safety Tips

• Prepare for a tornado by gathering emergency supplies including food, water, medications, batteries, flashlights, important documents, road maps, and a full tank of gasoline.

• Plan Ahead – Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance: how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations.

• You should also inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school, faith organizations, sports events and commuting. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one. Talk to community leaders, your colleagues, neighbors and members of faith or civic organizations about how you can work together in the event of an emergency. You will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones during an emergency if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance.

• Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer.

• When a tornado approaches, anyone in its path should take shelter indoors—preferably in a basement or an interior first-floor room or hallway.

• Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.

• Avoid windows and seek additional protection by getting underneath large, solid pieces of furniture.

• Avoid automobiles and mobile homes, which provide almost no protection from tornadoes.

• Those caught outside should lie flat in a depression or on other low ground and wait for the storm to pass.

Some signs of a tornado: Weather forecasting is a science and is not always exact and many tornadoes do occur without a warning. There is nothing better than staying alert to the sky and surrounding area.  Other than a visible tornado, here are some things to look and listen for:

  • Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
  • Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still.
  • Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base. They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
  • Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can not be seen.
  • Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm.
  • Day or night – Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder.
  • Night – Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
  • Night – Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning — especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath
  • If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

    Know the Difference

    Tornado Watch – Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!

    Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom). Stay out of mobile homes or auto mobiles.

    Here is a great documentary video of the 1970 Lubbock Tornado by the National Weather Service

    Wolfforth Texas Storm June 8th 2014 By Jim Welch Insurance Agency This is a video of a home security system that recorded the storm events on June 8th 2014 outside of Wolfforth Texas. Winds were estimated 80-100mph.Extensive property damage and death of wild life due to Golf Ball size hail. The video shows a tree that is about 10 ft from the camera. The hail and rain becomes so extreme and intense that you lose sight of the tree and all you see is horizontal blurs.

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