A tornado is a violently rotating
column of air that is in contact with and extending between
a convective cloud and the surface of the earth. It
can produce winds of one hundred to three hundred miles per hour and usually develops
after a thunderstorm. It is the most destructive of
all storm-scale atmospheric phenomena.
Tornadoes can occur anywhere in
the world given the right conditions, but they occur
most frequently in the United States in an area bounded
by the Rocky Mountains in the west and the Appalachian Mountains in the
In the United States, an average
of one thousand tornadoes occur every year, which, on
average, cause sixty deaths. However, the chances that
a tornado will strike the building that you are in are
very small, and, by doing a few simple things, you can
reduce the chance of injury.
The most important thing you can
do to prevent being injured in a tornado is to be alert
in case of severe weather. Listen to your local news
or radio or check the Tornado Project Online Web site.
- If a tornado watch is
issued for your area, it means that a tornado is possible.
- If a tornado warning is
issued, it means that a tornado has actually been
spotted in your area. Go to a safe shelter immediately.
Look for the following environmental
clues to help predict if a tornado will strike:
- A dark, often greenish sky
- A wall cloud
- Large hail
- A loud roar, similar to a freight
Know how to protect yourself before a tornado strikes.
1. Contact your local National Weather
Service (NWS) office; emergency management or civil defense
office; and American Red Cross (ARC) chapter to learn
your community's warning signals and evacuation plans.
Discuss the information that you gather with your family
and friends, and develop a survival plan.
2. Maintain and practice your plan
by asking questions to make sure your family remembers
the meeting places and scheduling practice emergency drills.
- Pick two places to meet in the
event a tornado strikes: (1) a spot outside (but nearby) your home and (2) a place away from your neighborhood
in case you can't return home.
- Designate an out-of-state friend
as your "check-in contact" for everyone to
call if the family gets separated.
- Discuss what you would do if
advised to evacuate.
- Have your family learn basic
safety measures, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid; how to
use a fire extinguisher; and how and when to turn
off the water, gas, and electricity in your home.
- Keep enough supplies in your
home to meet your needs for at least three days, e.g.,
water, extra clothing, blankets, a first aid kit,
emergency tools, and batteries. Store these supplies
in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers, such as backpacks
or duffle bags. (Replace stored water and food every
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