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. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long

Remember, tornadoes occasionally develop in areas in which a severe thunderstorm watch or warning is in effect. Remain alert to signs of an approaching tornado and seek shelter if threatening conditions exist.

Familiarize yourself with the following terms to stay alert and prepared:
  • Tornado Watch - Conditions are conducive to the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area.
  • Tornado Warning - A tornado has actually been sighted by spotters or indicated on radar and is occurring or imminent in the warning area.

Tornado Safety Tips

Before the Storm:
  • Develop a plan for you and your family for home, work, school and when outdoors.
  • Have frequent drills.
  • Know the county and keep a highway map nearby to follow storm movement from weather bulletins.
  • Have a NOAA Weather Radio with a warning alarm tone and battery back-up to receive warnings.
  • Listen to radio and television for information.
  • If planning a trip outdoors, listen to the latest forecasts and take necessary action if threatening weather is possible.
If a Warning is issued or if threatening weather approaches:
  • Have a pre-designated safety spot.
  • Go to the lowest level possible in a structure.
  • Put as many walls between you and the outside as you can.
  • Avoid windows and glass.
  • In a basement stay under the center support beam, a stairwell or heavy piece of furniture for protection from falling debris. Stay out of corners; debris often collects in corners.
  • If you have no area below ground level, use a hallway, closing doors off to outside rooms. A small interior room (bathroom or closet) away from outside walls and windows would be preferable to large rooms or rooms with outside walls.
Outside or in homes of modular construction:
  • Get to a safe shelter if possible. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car. If caught in the open, leave a vehicle and go to a low-lying area such as a ditch or ravine. Lie flat and cover your head.
  • Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned