Tornadoes can occur anywhere or anytime. These devastating storms come in many different shapes and sizes. Generally, weaker tornadoes have winds of less than 110 mph and last from one to 10 or more minutes. Stronger tornadoes have winds of approximately 110 to 205 mph and can last 20 minutes or longer. Violent tornadoes have winds of more than 205 mph and can last longer than one hour. Tornadoes frequently are associated with severe thunderstorms, particularly storms that produce hail and high winds.
No place is completely safe from a tornado, but you can lessen the impact on you and your family by being prepared.
What to watch for
Tornado conditions are characterized by a dark, often greenish sky, tall dark clouds, hail and a loud roar similar to a freight train. Pay attention to the local news media, particularly when the conditions are right for the development of severe storms. Doppler Radar is a great tool for identifying tornadoes, but technology still does not allow us to predict when or where a tornado will touch down.
What you can do before the storm
- Plan ahead. Know what you will do and where you will go if threatened by a tornado.
- Keep a map nearby so you can track the movement of the storm from weather bulletins.
- Obtain a NOAA Weather Radio with a warning-alarm tone and battery back-up for warnings. If planning a trip outdoors, listen for the latest forecasts and take necessary actions if severe weather threatens.
If a warning is issued or threatening weather approaches:
- Move to a predesignated "safe area" in your home.
- Stay away from windows and move to an interior room.
- Stop your vehicle and find shelter. Don't try to outrun a storm in your car.
- If you are outside, seek shelter in a nearby ditch or depression.
- Evacuate mobile homes because they offer no protection from winds.