In an average year, 800 tornadoes are reported nationwide, resulting in 80 deaths and over 1,500 injuries. A tornado is defined as a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 mph or more.
Note the difference between the National Weather Service’s tornado declarations. It is important to know what to do when a certian situation arises.
Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert. Listen to radio or watch local TV.
A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately. Look for the following danger signs:
- Dark, often greenish sky
- Large hail
- A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
- A loud roaring, similar to a freight train.
Things To Do When:
- If you are in: A structure (e.g. residence, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping mall)
Then: Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open windows.
- If you are in: A vehicle or mobile home
Then: Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.
- If you are: Outside with no shelter
Then: Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location. Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.