The NOAA's National Weather Service and American Red Cross have released information on what residents and families should do to prepare for a tornado.
The release states that tornados are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. Tornado intensities are classified on the Fujita Scale with ratings between F0 (weakest) to F5 (strongest). Although severe tornados like the F4 that hit Oklahoma yesterday are more common in the Plains States, tornados have been reported in every state.
Here are some tips and information from the National Weather Service and the Red Cross for preparing for a tornado.
- At home, have a family tornado plan in place, based on the kind of dwelling you live in.
- Know where you can take shelter in a matter of seconds and practice a family tornado drill at least once a year.
- Have a pre-determined place to meet after a disaster.
- When a tornado watch is issued, think about the drill and check to make sure all your safety supplies are handy.
- Turn on local TV, radio, or NOAA Weather Radio and stay alert for warnings.
Tornados are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps save lives.
A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom). In the open outdoors: If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado. Flying debris is the greatest danger in tornados.
Signs of a tornado
- strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base
- whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base – tornados sometimes have no funnel
- hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornados are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen
- day or night – loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder
- night – small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightening up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado
- night – persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning – especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.
Page 2 of 2 - After the tornado
- keep your family together and wait for emergency personnel to arrive
- carefully render aid to those who are injured
- stay away from power lines and puddles with wires in them; they may still be carrying electricity
- watch your step to avoid broken glass, nails and other sharp objects
- stay out of any heavily damaged houses or buildings; they could collapse at any time
- do not use matches or lighters, in case of leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby
- remain calm and alert, and listen for more information and instructions from emergency crews or local officials
For additional information, safety tips and public outreach resources please see the following websites: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/safety.html and http://www.redcross.org/