When you believe about tornadoes, what visual image pops up in your mind?
Perhaps you believe back to the Wizard of Oz in which the tornado picks up Dorothy’s house and tosses it into the land from the munchkins? Tornadoes are one of the very most powerful and destructive forces in nature. Here’s some advice regarding how to prepare for a tornado and what to do if you’re caught in a twister’s path.
That raises a few questions:
- What is really a tornado?
- What are the signs of the tornado?
- What is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?
What is really a tornado?
A tornado is really a violently rotating column of air extending in the base of a thunderstorm all the way down to the ground. They in many cases are called twisters or funnel clouds for a reason! Imagine a storm that:
- Reaches 300 miles per hour
- Leaves a path of damage up to 1 mile wide and 50 miles long
Tornadoes are deadly. Just because you don’t reside in Kansas where Dorothy lived, don’t think you're safe. Did you know that twisters have been reported in every state from the nation?
What are the signs of a tornado?
Open your eyes and ears.
- Look for a strong, persistent rotation within the cloud base.
- Look for a funnel shaped cloud.
- Look for whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base. It is because tornadoes don’t always have a funnel!
- Look and listen for hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. (This is because that many tornadoes are hidden in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.
- Listen for a loud, continuous roar or rumble. Some people have compared it to the sound a freight train makes. It’s usually longer than a crack of thunder which only lasts a few seconds.
- Look for weird Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes close to the ground of a thunderstorm. They are best visible within the dark at night.
- Look out for a dark, often greenish sky
What may be the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?
What is really a tornado watch?
Meteorologists give us the heads up that the potential tornado can pop up inside a particular area. What should you do?
- Review and discuss your emergency plan with the family.
- Know where your go-bag is located.
- Do you have flashlights, water, and food ready in your safe room area?
- Be ready to drop what you are doing in the event you hear of the tornado warning or the see or hear the sound of the freight train coming your way.
What is really a tornado warning?
This means that a meteorologist spotted one around the weather radar or someone has reported seeing one touch down.
- Do not waste one moment.
- Stay away from the windows.
- Grab your supplies and go to your safe area of your home, preferably a basement, storm cellar or an interior closet or bathroom.
Looking for more tornado safety tips?
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