How to survive a tornado. So you are sitting there watching TV when all of a sudden the annoying beeping sound from the TV comes on to alert you of weather danger in your area. What do you do next? Well, first of all, you need to understand what the warning signs mean so you can action them accordingly. When a tornado is in question, you have a tornado watch as well as a tornado warning. Another tall tell sign that there is a tornado is the loud sirens played around most populated areas.
With a tornado watch, the weathermen are doing just that – watching a certain area (usually a certain city or small county). This means there is a possibility of a tornado in that area and they will update you if one touches the ground. The tornado warning, however – means that there is a tornado spotted on the ground and can easily be on top of the homes and businesses in minutes around its own path. At this point you should be moving to the lowest part of your home, staying away from windows or glass of any type. Use pillows, cushions, blankets or mattresses to protect yourself from flying debris.
A good practice is to have a tornado drill that you have practiced with all of the people who live in the home with you. This should include a place where everyone is supposed to go in the event of a tornado. In that place, you should have an emergency supply area and a list of important phone numbers to have incased of an emergency situation. These may include the police or fire department, family members, The American Red Cross and of course dial 911 for any emergency during or after the storm.
Your supply area should contain the following:
- First Aid Kit
- Change of Clothing for Everyone in the House
- Air Horn
- Food and Water for a Day or Two
- Handheld Radio
If no shelter is available and you are outside at the time of the tornado, try to find a ditch or some area below ground level to hunker down in and cover your head and face with your arms, shirt or jacket. Do not get in a ditch near cars or other large items that can be thrown on top of you during the peak of the storm.
If in a car, then pull over to the side of the road and get as low as possible shielding your face from possible broken windows or other flying debris. Do not park underneath a bridge or overpass. That is a death sentence waiting to happen when the tornado gets directly above that area. You can also try to out running away from the tornado if you are in a car. If you are in a place to see the tornado moving left or right of you, then you can just try to take a road going the opposite way. If it seems to be standing still – it is most likely either coming straight at you, or it’s moving directly away from your position.
Where Might a Tornado Strike?
As far as tornados go, they can happen anywhere that mother nature sets her mind to it. If the situation is just right with the winds and the rain clouds, they can literally set in anywhere. Some places are used to seeing more tornados during tornado season though. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas. These states are commonly referred to as “Tornado Alley”.
If you live in any of those states, I highly recommend that you have a preliminary plan of what the people who live in your house are supposed to do when a tornado strikes. See above. If you live in tornado-prone areas, make it a habit to watch the TV weather forecast morning and evening. If they mention a risk of severe weather during that day, make a mental note that storms are possible, and keep a tab on your phone, your Weather Radio, or commercial broadcasts or news stations.
Did You Know: About Tornadoes
Most tornadoes occur from the hours of 3-7 pm and only touch the ground for 4-5 minutes. However, a strong twister can touch the ground several times while carving out its path of destruction. The winds in a tornado determine how strong it is according to the national weather professionals. Typically a tornado can be 100-320 miles per hour winds. The higher-end tornados can rip houses and businesses to shreds in just a few moments.
The Fujita Scale rates tornados based on the damage they cause. These tornados range from an EF0 to an EF5. The EF0 may cause some damage to surrounding trees and the like, but the powerful EF5 will rip off roofs and carry cars several yards in the air. Tornados vary in size, shape, and intensity but the bigger ones are most likely the most deadly. Surprisingly, over 80% of our nation’s tornados are between EF0 to EF1.
Different Types of Tornadoes:
Multiple Vortex: A multiple-vortex tornado is a type of tornado in which two or more columns of spinning air rotate about their own axis and at the same time revolve around a common center. This is often observed in intense tornados.
Satellite Tornado: A small tornado that forms close to a much larger tornado. It may appear to rotate around the larger tornado, fooling you into thinking there is only one tornado to watch out for – but it just rotates around the larger one’s pattern.
Waterspout: This is defined as a tornado that is directly over a body of water by the National Weather Service. They form over tropical and subtropical waters. They occur most commonly in the Florida Keys and the Adriatic Sea.
Landspout: The name stems from their characterization as a “fair weather waterspout on land”. Waterspouts and landspouts share many characteristics, including relative weakness, short lifespan, and a small, smooth funnel which often doesn’t reach the surface.
Landspouts also create a distinctive cloud of dust when they make contact with the ground, due to their differing mechanics from true mesoform tornadoes. Though usually weaker than classic tornadoes, they can produce strong winds that could cause serious damage.
Gustnado: This is a small tornado that is usually surrounding a gust front or downburst. They are not associated with a cloud covering. They originate from the gusts off the ground.
Dust Devil: This is simply a column of air coming off the sandy grounds on a clear sky. They are also called whirlwinds and are only as dangerous as the lowest end tornado (EF1).
As you can see, there are many types of tornadoes and some are much deadlier than others are. Luckily less than 1% of tornadoes are EF4 or higher. With our 1000 or so tornadoes a year, that still leaves 10 or so that are extremely dangerous. A few significant tornadoes also occur each year in Europe, Asia, southern Africa, and southeastern South America.
The tornado which holds most records in history was the Tri-State Tornado, which roared through parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on March 18, 1925. It was likely an EF5, though tornadoes were not ranked on any scale in that era. It holds records for longest path length (219 miles), longest duration (about 3.5 hours), and fastest forward speed for a significant tornado (73 mph) anywhere on Earth. In addition, it is the deadliest single tornado in United States history which took the lives of almost 700 people. There was also one in Bangladesh in 1989 that killed over 1300 people.