The “family of tornadoes” actually began their deadly trip across the southeastern U.S. last Thursday night.  This storm system struck parts of Oklahoma that night, and eventually traveled through 13 states, leaving 45 persons dead, and several others injured.  The tragedy was compounded by the destruction of homes and businesses.  A total of 241 tornadoes were reported, with 50 tornadoes confirmed.  These twisters were various sizes, with some as wide as a football field.  Communities that were hit are now facing the reality of what has happened, beginning with the huge task of cleanup. 

Because the National Weather Service continuously broadcasts updated weather warnings and forecasts that can be received by NOAA Weather Radios, it is recommended that persons who live in vulnerable parts of the country purchase one of them.  Having a battery-operated weather radio would be invaluable in the event of a dangerous thunderstorm or other natural weather occurrence.  You probably already understand these warnings, but we will review them, just in case: 

  • Tornado WATCH: Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms.
  • Tornado WARNING: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.  If a tornado warning is issued for your area and the sky becomes threatening, move to your pre-designated place of safety.
  • Severe Thunderstorm WATCH: Severe thunderstorms are possible in your area.
  • Severe Thunderstorm WARNING: Severe thunderstorms are happening. 

Tornadoes occasionally develop in areas where a severe thunderstorm watch or warning is in effect.  Stay alert to signs of an approaching tornado and seek shelter if threatening conditions exist.  Sometimes, tornadoes develop so quickly that advance warning is not possible.  Watch for signs of an approaching tornado, such as dark, often greenish sky; wall cloud; large hail; and loud roar – similar to a freight train. 

 It’s up to you!  Many people are killed or seriously injured each year by tornadoes despite advance warning.  Some did not hear the warning while others received the warning but did not believe a tornado would actually affect them.  Being prepared and having timely severe weather watches and warnings could save your life if a tornado threatens your area.  You must make the decision to seek shelter before the storm arrives.  It could be the most important decision you ever make! 

Certain citizens are more at risk than others.  This includes:

  1. Persons in automobiles;
  2. The elderly, very young, and the mentally or physically impaired;
  3. People in mobile homes;
  4. People who may not understand the warning due to a language barrier. 

In our next article, we will go over disaster plans for all scenarios: home, school, work, and other facilities, such as hospitals or nursing homes.  Start thinking of things you need purchase to build your supply kit.  It pays to be prepared!  Put the safety of you and your family first!

Source: NOAA