Tornadoes and the Process of a Successful Preparedness Plan
are nature's most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms,
tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in
seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud
that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds
that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess
of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk
from this hazard. Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain
or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes
develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible.
Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become
very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado
even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near
the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see
clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado. The following are facts
- They may
strike quickly, with little or no warning.
- They may
appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up
or a cloud forms in the funnel.
- 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.
can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto
are tornadoes that form over water.
are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during
spring and summer months.
- Peak tornado
season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern
states, it is late spring through early summer.
are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., but can occur
at any time.
the Terms. Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify
a tornado hazard:
Watch: Tornadoes are possible. This simply means that conditions are
favorable for tornadoes to develop. In this case you should take
precautions to protect you and your property, and listen to the
radio to keep informed. Tornadoes are most likely to occur in
the late afternoon on a hot spring day. However, tornadoes have
occurred in every month at all times of the day or night. When
a tornado "watch" is issued, be alert for changes in the weather.
Be prepared to act quickly. Remain alert for approaching storms.
Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial
radio, or television for information.
Warning: A tornado or strong rotation has been sighted or indicated by
weather radar. If one is issued for your area, you should seek
shelter immediately! There is little time for closing windows
or hunting for a flashlight. It's a good idea to know where things
are, and to have an emergency storm kit already prepared.
Protective Measures Before a Tornado, Be alert to changing weather
NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts
for the latest information. Look
for approaching storms. Also Look
for the following danger signs:
Dark, often greenish sky. If there is large hail
A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
If you see
approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to
take shelter immediately.
a Tornado If you are under a tornado WARNING, seek shelter immediately!
the storm hits... A little planning can prevent unnecessary panic
and confusion if a tornado does strike.
- Learn the
warning signals used in your community. If a siren sounds, that
means STAY INSIDE and take cover.
setting up a neighborhood information program through a club,
church group or community group. Hold briefings on safety procedures
as tornado season approaches. Set up a system to make sure senior
citizens and shut-ins are alerted if there is a tornado warning.
- Put together
an emergency storm kit including a battery operated NOAA weather radio, flashlight,
batteries and simple first aid items in a waterproof container.
(THE DAYS BEFORE) - PACK AHEAD OF TIME AND HAVE READILY AVAILABLE, WATER, CANNED FOOD, AND ANY MEDICAL PRESCRIPTIONS YOU NEED, IN READY TO GO STATUS. EXTRA CLOTHES, SLEEPING BAGS AND BLANKETS RAINPROOF PACKED FOR USE AFTER THE STORM.
GET TO THE GROCERY STORE EARLY WHEN THE FORECAST IN YOUR AREA IS SEVERE WEATHER APPROACHING.
FIRST IS A GOOD NOAA WEATHER RADIO.. HERE
IS AN EXAMPLE OF A STORM PREPAREDNESS KIT.
- Make a
complete inventory of your possessions for insurance purposes.
Keep that list in a bank safe deposit box or other safe place
away from home.
drills with your family in the home; make sure each member knows
the correct procedures if they are at work or school when a tornado
a tornado watch is in effect... You can take certain precautions
to lessen the danger.
- Move cars
inside a garage or carport, if possible, to avoid damage from
hail that often accompanies severe storms. Keep your car keys
and house keys with you.
- Move lawn
furniture and yard equipment such as lawnmowers inside (if time
permits). Otherwise they could become damaged or act as dangerous
projectiles causing serious injury or damage.
for family members at home. Have your emergency kit ready.
a tornado warning has been issued on the radio or by siren...
- Seek shelter
- AT HOME:
In the basement under something sturdy, like a bench. If there
is no basement, a small room in the middle of the house (a closet
or bathroom is the best). Always stay away from outside walls
- AT WORK
OR SCHOOL: Designated shelter areas are best. (See University
Safety and Assurances webpage on tornadoes) for a listing of the
shelter area for your building. Stay away from large open rooms
like auditoriums and gymnasiums, and rooms with windows. Lie low
with your hands covering the back of your head to reduce neck
- IN SHOPPING
MALLS: Go to a designated shelter area or to the center of the
building on a low level. Stay away from large, open rooms and
windows. Never seek shelter in cars in the parking lot.
- IN MOBILE
HOMES OR CARS: Leave the vehicle. Seek a safe structure or lie
down in a low area with your hands covering the back of your head
and neck. Keep alert for flash floods that often accompany such
- Keep calm.
Stay in your shelter until after the storm is over.
- Check people
around you for injuries. Begin First Aid or seek help if necessary.
Always cooperate with local officials.
- Check utility
lines and appliances for damage. If you smell gas, open the windows
and turn off the main valve. Don't turn on lights or appliances
until the gas has dissipated. If electric wires are shorting out,
turn off the power.
- When you
go outside, watch out for downed power lines.
- Notify your
insurance agent and provide as much detail as possible about damage
to your property. Follow the agent's directions on filing your
- Take steps
to protect your home and furniture from further damage. 1.Clean
and dry your furniture, bedding, rugs and carpeting as soon as
possible. 2.Board up windows and holes in the walls or roof.
- Don't be
rushed into signing repair contracts. Deal with reputable contractors.
If you're unsure about contractor's credentials perhaps your agent,
claim adjuster, Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce
can help. Make sure the contractor you hire is experienced in
repair work - not just new construction. Be sure of payment terms
and consult your agent or adjuster before you sign any contracts.
- Keep receipts
for living expenses beyond your normal ones (such as temporary
quarters) and for temporary repair costs so you can seek insurance