Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms with winds capable of exceeding 300 miles per hour. A tornado's path can be more than a mile wide and 50 miles long. Tornadoes often occur near the trailing edge of thunderstorms.
The most active months for tornadoes are April and May, but a tornado can occur during any month.
A tornado watch is an announcement from the National Weather Service (NWS) that conditions are right for tornado development. Be alert to weather conditions, the sky may be clear, but conditions can change rapidly. Stay tuned to broadcast information – weather radio, commercial radio, or television.
A warning is issued by NWS when a tornado has been spotted, either by a person or by weather radar. Look for dark swirling or funnel shaped clouds. Greenish clouds, thunder, lightning, heavy rain, a train like sound, and possible large hail may be present. When a warning is issued danger is imminent, seek shelter immediately for you, your family, and pets.
- Seek shelter –
- If inside, go to a small room on the lowest floor – closets, hallways, or interior bathrooms, avoid windows.
- If outside, stay low, shield yourself (coats or blankets will help) as most injuries and fatalities are caused by flying debris.
- If in a mobile home, seek shelter elsewhere, go to the nearest sturdy building.
- If in a vehicle, get as low in the vehicle as possible.
- Helmets - bicycle or motorcycle - will offer protect for your head, as will, to a lessor extent, construction hard hats.
- Keep a radio and cell phone nearby.
- Put pets in a carrier.
- Prevent injury from falling objects by removing items from high shelves or moving to another location.
- Make a plan, make sure that everyone knows what they will do in the event of a tornado.
- Practice tornado drills, gather family and pets in the shelter room.
Extensive tornado information can be found at Ready America.