Spring Weather Preparedness
Thunderstorms & Tornadoes
Each year, many people are killed or seriously injured by tornadoes and severe thunderstorms despite advance warning. The National Weather Service considers thunderstorms severe if it produces hail, strong winds, or a tornado. Being prepared combined with timely severe weather watches and warnings could save your life and others you care about. Tornados are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornados can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard. Every home should have a plan for what to do in case of a tornado. Signs of an approaching tornado: a dark, often greenish sky, large hail, or a loud roar similar to a freight train.
Tornado Myths and Truths
Myth: Areas near lakes, rivers, and mountains are safe from tornados.
Truth: No place is safe from tornadoes. A tornado near Yellowstone National Park left a path of destruction up and down a 10,000 foot mountain.
Myth: Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
Truth: Leave the windows alone. The most important action is to immediately go to a safe shelter.
Myth: If you are driving and a tornado is sighted, you should turn and drive at right angles to the storm.
Truth: The best thing to do is to seek the best available shelter. Many people are injured or killed when remaining in their vehicles.
Myth: People caught in the open should seek shelter under highway overpasses.
Truth: Take shelter in a sturdy reinforced building if all possible. Overpasses, ditches, and culverts may provide limited protection from a tornado, but your risk will be greatly reduced by moving inside a strong building.
Truth: Tornadoes can occur at any time but, are most likely to occur between 3 and 9 p.m.
Truth: Peak months for tornados in the northern states late spring and summer.
Truth: A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground.