It’s a Twister! It’s a Twister!

Let’s talk tornadoes. Although they are predominantly seen in the Midwest (Cue scene from The Wizard of Oz), tornadoes are becoming more prevalent nationwide as the years progress. They wreak havoc and chaos on their affecting areas and leave a significant amount of damage in their wake.

According to National Geographic:

  • Tornadoes are classified as weak, strong, or violent storms. Violent tornadoes comprise only about two percent of all tornadoes, but they cause 70% of all tornado deaths.

  • Most tornadoes form in the late afternoon - By this time the sun has heated the ground and the atmosphere enough to produce thunderstorms.

  • Tornadoes form when warm, humid air collides with cold, dry air.

  • Once a tornado hits the ground, it can last as short as a few seconds or as long as 3 hours.

  • Every year in the United States, tornadoes do about $400 million dollars in damage.

  • Most tornado victims are struck by flying debris — roofing shingles, broken glass, doors, or metal rods.

Preparing for a tornado is not an easy task, there is usually only a small window which allows people to take proper shelter before the cyclone hits. Here are some safety tips from the American Red Cross to consider before a tornado occurs:

  • Look at the daily weather, if the forecast is an expected heavy storm, take the necessary safety precautions to prepare for the storm prior to its arrival.

  • Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information regarding a storm.

  • Know where the safe places are within your home where everyone will gather during a tornado – a room with no windows, storm cellar, or lowest floor of the house.

  • If you are in a high rise building with no time to go to the lowest floor, go to a hallway in the center of that building.

  • Know the difference between a tornado watch vs. a tornado warning; a watch means there is potential; a warning means there is already a tornado occurring or is likely to occur soon.

  • Protect your home - Make the trees surrounding your home more wind resistant by removing damaged limbs.

  • Consider installing permanent shutters to cover windows. Shutters can be closed quickly and provide the safest protection for windows.

  • Always be prepared! – make sure your home has an emergency preparedness kit and consider creating an evacuation plan for your family and pets!

  • Strengthen those garage doors – when the winds apply pressure to the walls, the roof can be lifted off, and the rest of the house can easily follow.

  • If you are outdoors when a tornado occurs, immediately get into a vehicle and drive to the closest shelter. Remember to buckle your seat belt. Stay away from bridge and highway overpasses. If there are strong winds resulting in flying debris, pull over, park, and put your head below the windows covering your head.

  • Following a tornado, make sure to let family and friends know you’re safe, continue to listen to the radio, local news, or the NOAA for any updates regarding any information or instructions following the storm.