Tornadoes are the most destructive and devastating product of a thunderstorm. These violent “twisters” are characterized by a twisting, funnel-shaped cloud, which forms from the bottom of a wall cloud and touches the ground. Tornadoes are often accompanied by lightning, heavy rain and hail.
A Tornado Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop. Be prepared to take action.
A Tornado Warning is issued when radar indicates a tornado, or a funnel cloud has been sighted. Seek shelter immediately.
In an average year, the United States reports 800 tornadoes Resulting in 80 deaths and 1,500 Injuries. While they can occur all year, They are most common during the Spring in the Great Plains, where they develop along “drylines”, which separate very warm, moist air to the east from hot, dry air to the west. Tornado producing thunderstorms may form as the dryline moves east during the afternoon hours.
The safest place to be when a tornado strikes is in a basement under something sturdy like a workbench. If your house does not have a basement, seek shelter in a small room in the middle of the house. A closet or a bathroom is best. The more walls between you and the approaching storm, the better. Have a portable radio and flashlight handy to take with you.
If you live in a mobile home, even those with tie downs, seek more sturdy shelter. Go to a prearranged location like a neighbor’s house or a nearby structure with a basement. As a last resort, go outside and lie flat on the ground with your hands over your head and neck.
In an automobile, never try to outrun a tornado. Tornadoes create flying debris that cause severe injury. Get out of your vehicle and 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.
At work or school know the emergency shelter plans. If no specific plans exist, go to an interior hallway or small room on the building’s lowest level. Avoid areas with glass and wide, free span roofs. In a store or shopping mall, if you can’t get to a basement or designated shelter, go to the center of the lowest level of the building. Avoid windows and lie flat. Cover yourself with any sturdy object.