Tornadoes have already hit some areas of the United States!  Because they keep coming back year after year, we want to repeat this information we shared with you last year.  The most violent storms of nature, tornadoes are rotating funnel clouds that extend from thunderstorms to the ground with winds that can reach 300 mph.  Their paths can be one mile wide and up to 50 miles long.

In order to keep the public informed, NOAA weather radio, commercial radio, and television stations frequently announce weather situations.  WATCH means that a tornado is possible.  WARNING means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar, and to take shelter immediately.
From FEMA: The following are facts about tornadoes:

  • They may strike quickly, with little or no warning.
  • The average tornado moves Southwest to Northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
  • Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.
  • The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 MPH, but may vary from stationary to 70 MPH.
  • They may be almost transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
  • Tornadoes can go with tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.
  • Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., but can happen at any time.
  • Tornadoes 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.

Danger signs of tornadoes are: large hail, large dark low-lying cloud, (particularly if rotating), loud roar (like a freight train), and dark, greenish sky.  The area may become very still prior to a tornado.

When a tornado is approaching, get to a cellar, basement, closet or hallway away from windows and doors, and get under a table.  If you are in a mobile home, get out immediately and take shelter.  If you are outside: lie flat in a ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.  You are safer in a low, flat location than under an overpass or bridge.  If you are in a vehicle, never try to outrun a tornado. Leave your vehicle and seek a safer location.  Watch for flying debris from a tornado. Debris causes major injuries and many fatalities.

We certainly hope you never experience a tornado.  As we always suggest: remember to keep adequate supplies of water and non-perishable foods, first aid kit, flashlight, change of clothes, and other needed equipment ready in case of an emergency.  The best plan for you and your loved ones is to be prepared, just in case.

Source: FEMA