Tornadoes are violent rotating columns of air extending from the cloud base to the ground. Funnel clouds are defined as not touching the ground.
Most tornadoes are found in or very near a rotating wall cloud, on the south or south west side of a thunderstorm. A TORNADO WATCH means weather conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area.
A TORNADO WARNING means a tornado is highly imminent, or is already on the ground. Seek shelter immediately, stay away from windows, go into a basement and get under a heavy desk or table covering you head with your arms, a mattress or heavy blanket. If there is no basement, go to the lowest level or an interior hall or closet. A bathtub can also be used as a last resort.
Get out of large auditoriums or large warehouses.
If you are caught outdoors or in a motor vehicle, lie flat in a roadside ditch, ravine or culvert, and cover your head with your arms.
Straight Line Winds
Responsible for most thunderstorm damage.
Winds can reach 100 to 150 mph
Downbursts can cause damage equivalent to a strong tornado.
What You and Your Family Can Do:
Monitor a NOAA Weather Radio signal to obtain the latest forecasts and warnings.
Make sure the radio receiver has a battery backup.
NWS warnings are broadcast on commercial radio and TV stations as well as cable TV channels.
Know the county you live in. Severe weather watches and warnings are issued on a county basis.
Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent.
Stay off the water if a thunderstorm approaches.
If a storm is approaching, seek sturdy shelter.
What to do and take should your family be evacuated:
- Clothing for a week
- Prescribed or necessary medication and glasses
- Important papers and purse or wallet, credit cards, deeds, and checks
- Personal and toiletry articles
- Special dietary items such as infant formula
- Bring books, cards or games for entertainment
- Household pets should be evacuated. You are responsible for the care and shelter of the animal. Pets are not allowed in public shelters.
- Lock doors, shut windows and close blinds and draperies. Prepare your home like you were going on vacation.
- Notify family and friends about what is happening and where you plan to stay
- Move quickly and calmly
If you are ordered to stay indoors or “shelter in place” follow these tips:
- Close all doors and windows
- Do not evacuate your home
- Turn off air conditioners, furnaces, ventilation fans and other air intakes
- Listen to the radio for further instructions
How to Prepare your family for a Tornado
Are you ready? Tornado Preparedness Worksheet