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Emergency Guide Tornado


Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. The path of a tornado can be over a mile wide and extend for over 50 miles. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that advance warning is not possible.

Facts About Tornadoes

  • They may strike quickly with little or no warning
  • Tornadoes typically develop near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm
  • They may appear transparent until dust and debris are picked up or clouds form inside the funnel
  • Typical tornadoes move in the general direction from Southwest to Northeast, but they have been known to move in any direction

Tornado Watch

The National Weather Service issues a tornado watch when weather conditions indicate that a tornado is possible. When a tornado watch is issued, persons in the watch area should:

  • Monitor local commercial media for tornado emergency information, updates, and instructions
  • Look for approaching storms
  • Look and listen for the following danger signs:

Dark, often greenish sky

Large hail

A large, dark, low-lying cloud - particularly if rotating

A loud, rumbling roar similar to a freight train

If you see an approaching storm, or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately

Tornado Warning

The National Weather Service issues a tornado warning when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. When a tornado warning is issued, or the siren sounds, persons should:

  • Seek shelter immediately

If indoors:

  • Go to a pre-designated safe room, basement, or the lowest building level. If you cannot get to the basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway)
  • Stay away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls
  • Put as many walls (and levels above) as possible between you and the outside
  • Get under a sturdy table and cover you neck and head with your arms
  • Do not open doors or windows

If in a vehicle:

  • Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy building. If there is no nearby building still get out - remaining inside a vehicle during a tornado is extremely dangerous
  • Outrunning a tornado is advisable if in a rural and uncongested location - never try to outrun a tornado from an urban or congested location

If outside with no available shelter:

  • Lie flat in a ditch or depression covering the head with hands and arms - beware of potential flooding
  • Do not get under a bridge or overpass - it is safer in a low, flat location
  • Watch out for flying debris in the funnel - any object as small as a piece of straw can become fatal when traveling at several hundred miles per hour

Additional information on tornadoes is available on the following website:

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration

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