Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can lead to fatalities and ruin a neighborhood within seconds. A tornado appears like a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from the thunderstorm to the earth with whirling winds that wil reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be more than one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard. Some tornadoes will be clearly visible, while rain or even nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that very little, if any, advance warning may be possible. Before a tornado strikes, the wind may well die down and the air may grow to be very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even though a funnel isn’t visible. Tornadoes generally occur close to the trailing edge of the thunderstorm. It is not unusual to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.
- To begin getting ready, you should build a crisis kit and come up with a family communications strategy.
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or even television newscasts for the latest information. In any crisis, always listen to the instructions given by means of local emergency management officials.
- Be alert to changing climate conditions. Look for storms near by.
- Look for these danger signs:
- Loud roar, similar to the freight train.
- A large, dark, low-lying cloud (especially if rotating)
- Large hail
- Dark, often greenish skies
- If you notice approaching storms or some of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
During a Tornado
If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately! Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head.
If you’re in a structure (e. g. residence, school, shopping center, nursing home, small building, factory, hospital, high-rise building), then:
- Go to the pre-designated shelter area, for instance a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there isn’t any basement, go to the middle of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) clear from any corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as you possibly can between you and the outside. Get under any sturdy table and use your arms to shield your head and neck.
- In a high-rise building, go to a compact interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- Put on durable shoes.
- Do not open windows.
If you’re in a truck or mobile house, then:
- Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of any sturdy, nearby building or even a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little security from tornadoes.
If you’re outside with absolutely no shelter, then:
- Immediately get in a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and attempt to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
- If your car is hit by flying debris when you are driving, pull over and park.
- Stay in the vehicle with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head using your hands and any blanket, coat or other cushion if at all possible.
- If you can safely get significantly lower than the level of the roadway, leave your vehicle and lie in that area, covering your head using your hands
- Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer inside a low, flat location.
- Never try to outrun a tornado within urban or busy areas in trucks or cars. Instead, leave the car immediately for the protection shelter.
- Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.