Tornadoes are the most violent of storms with winds that usually exceed 100 miles per hour and can devastate a neighborhood in seconds. Tornadoes have been reported in every state and can occur at any time of the year, although most tornadoes occur in June.
Danger signs of tornadoes are dark or greenish skies; large hail; large, dark, low-lying clouds; and a loud roar, similar to a freight train. The first step in preparedness is becoming familiar with some of the terms you may hear during severe weather outbreaks.
Watch— Risk of a hazardous weather event has increased significantly. The occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain.
Watches are intended to provide “lead time” to set your emergency plans in motion. Continue to watch and monitor the local weather.
Warning – Hazardous weather event is occurring, imminent, or has a very high probability of occurring. Used for conditions posing a threat to life or property. Set your response plans in motion following official guidance.
Ensuring you are prepared for this weather is essential. www.Ready.gov offers these tips before, during, and after a tornado:
Before a tornado:
- To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
- Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms.
- Look for the following danger signs:
- Dark, often greenish sky
- Large hail
- A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
- Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
- If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
During a tornado:
|If you are in:||Then:|
|A structure (e.g. residence, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building)||
|A manufactured home or office||
|The outside with no shelter||If you are not in a sturdy building, there is no single research-based recommendation for what last-resort action to take because many factors can affect your decision. Possible actions include:
In all situations:
After a tornado:
- Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
- Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
- Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
- If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust. Tap on a pipe or wall or use a whistle, if you have one, so that rescuers can locate you.
- Stay out of damaged buildings and homes until local authorities indicate it is safe.
- Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.
- Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.
- If your home is without power, use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns rather than candles to prevent accidental fires.
For additional resources on tornadoes and severe weather, visit: