While Doppler radar and tornado warning systems have dramatically increased survival rates, many residents in tornado-prone states fail to take basic tornado safety precautions. Photo courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
You’ve no doubt seen news coverage of the 35 tornadoes that hit five states this month: Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. Several dozen residents were killed, with many more injured.
While Doppler radar and tornado warning systems have dramatically reduced fatalities, many residents in tornado-prone states fail to take basic emergency preparedness precautions.
Understanding the Warnings
Tornado safety begins by listening for National Weather Service advisories. A tornado watch is issued when tornadoes are possible in your area. You need to be attuned to environmental cues:
- Dark, often greenish sky
- Wall cloud
- Large hail
- Loud roar, similar to a freight train
A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or picked up by radar. You must immediately seek shelter. Don’t wait for twisters to appear or touch down. Follow these tornado safety guidelines issued by the National Weather Service:
Tornado Safety Guidelines
- In a home or building, move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement.
- If an underground shelter is unavailable, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor, and take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture.
- Stay away from windows.
- Get out of automobiles.
- Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car. Instead, leave it immediately.
- Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned.
For more information on tornadoes and tornado safety, please visit our Tornado Preparedness page, which contains numerous resources to help you protect your family and increase your chances of survival.