How to prepare for and survive a tornado.
Tornadoes are deadly and destructive wind storms produced by severe thunderstorms. They can cause extensive damage to buildings and vegetation. A tornado typically consists of a funnel-shaped cloud that reaches the ground. Winds associated with a tornado can exceed 200 mph (322 kph). Damage paths can be greater than one mile (1.6 km) wide and 50 miles (80 km) long.
Tornadoes may appear as a funnel in varying widths. Some contain multiple vortices. Tornadoes can be 'rain-wrapped' and hard to identify. Swirling dust/debris are typical indicators that a tornado has reached the ground.
Weather terms associated with tornadoes are as follows:
- Tornado Watch: Weather conditions are conducive for tornadoes to develop in or near the watch area.
- Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted on the ground or indicated by radar signature in the warning area.
WHAT TO DO IF TORNADOES THREATEN YOUR AREA
Tornado Watch Issued
- Once a watch has been issued, monitor NOAA weather radio or local media for updated weather information.
- Find a place to seek shelter, such as a basement or storm cellar. If underground shelter is not available, identify an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor. Be prepared to take shelter quickly.
- Watch for tornado danger signs: a dark greenish sky, large hailstones, a low-lying rotating cloud, and a loud roar (similar to a freight train sound)
Tornado Warning Issued
When a tornado warning has been issued, you may have very little time to prepare.
If located in a frame house:
- Seek shelter in the lowest level of the house, preferably the basement. If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway, an interior room, or a closet. Keep away from all windows.
- Protect your head and eyes from flying debris with a jacket or blanket.
- Remain in the shelter until the storm has passed; multiple tornadoes can be produced from the same storm.
If located in a mobile home:
- Leave the structure immediately, and seek shelter elsewhere.
If located outdoors:
- Seek shelter inside. Avoid large-span roofed buildings such as school gyms, arenas, or shopping malls.
- If unable to find a building or driving, lie flat on the ground in a low-lying area or ditch. Cover your neck/head with your arms.
- Avoid seeking cover under highway underpasses; these areas see enhanced wind speeds during tornadoes.
- Do not attempt to outrun a tornado.
Tornadoes are ranked on the Enhanced Fujita Scale according to wind speed and damage created.
|Enhanced Fujita Scale||Wind Speed||Damage|
|EF0||65-85 mph |
|Some minor roof damage. Tree branches broken off and shallow-rooted trees uprooted.|
|EF1||86-110 mph |
|Moderate damage to roofing. Mobile homes overturned. Moving autos pushed off roads.|
|EF2||111-135 mph |
|Considerable damage to houses. Large trees uprooted. Mobile homes destroyed Lightweight objects become airborne.|
|EF3||136-165 mph |
|Severe damage to well-constructed buildings. Trains derailed/overturned. Large vehicles tossed.|
|EF4||166-200 mph |
|Houses leveled. Airborne objects become missiles. Vehicles lifted and thrown.|
|EF5||>200 mph |
|Total building destruction. Strong frame houses leveled. Concrete structures damaged. Some vehicles thrown approximately 1 mile (1.6 km).|
- Related Advice:
How to prepare for a hurricane/tropical cyclone/typhoon.
- Related Advice:
How to prepare for thunderstorms and cope with them safely.