A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. The winds in a tornado can exceed those measured in the most intense hurricanes. The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 mph or more. These violent winds are what make tornadoes so deadly - they can uproot and snap trees, down power lines, move or pick up cars and trucks, and destroy homes. In addition, the wind-thrown debris poses a serious hazard to people in the path of a tornado. The damage path of tornadoes can be very short, or they can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Tornadoes that form over a body of water are called waterspouts.
Tornado Watch- Issued to alert the public that conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area. These watches are issued with information concerning the watch area and the length of time they are in effect.
Tornado Warning - Issued by local NWS offices to warn the public that a tornado has been sighted by storm spotters or has been indicated by radar. These warnings are issued with information concerning where the tornado is presently located and what communities are in the anticipated path of the tornado.
Tornados can form very rapidly from any large Severe Storm cell. This means there may not be time to receive a warning so it is important to know the natural signs of a Tornado, this will put you on alert if conditions merit, even if no warning is given.
Natural Signs of a possible Tornado forming.
Other signs of a Tornado
When these weather conditions are seen be very alert to take cover in an instant.
If a funnel cloud is close take cover, it may touch the ground in an instant. If the funnel cloud is far away then report it to local authorities (911), be alert and ready to take cover if needed. Evacuate dangerous areas immediately.
Example of Dark Clouds, A Wall Cloud, A Funnel Cloud
1. Seek shelter under a sturdy table in the basement.
2. If no basement is available, go to a first floor, small interior room or a room on the opposite side from a tornado. Stay away from windows.
3. In schools, churches, and shopping centers, go to designated shelters away from outside walls, glass, and large rooms (malls, auditoriums). Get under a table or counter or in a restroom or small storeroom. DO NOT GO TO YOUR PARKED CAR
4. In motels, lie down in the lowest-level interior hallway away from glass. Dive under a bed or pull a mattress on top of you as last resort.
5. In a vehicle, drive away at a right angle to the storm movement. DO NOT GET CAUGHT IN YOUR VEHICLE. Abandon your vehicle and lie in a ditch or culvert or under a low bridge.
Overall: Underground and under a table are the watchwords. People who get under something usually survive.
If you live in a mobile home, GET OUT, before the storm arrives.
Remember these simple rules: