You should always be as prepared as you can be for bad weather because sometimes it feels like storms can appear out of nowhere.
But, there are always signs – and that’s also the case with tornados.
What, exactly, are tornadoes?
Tornadoes are rotating column of wind that usually move about 10 to 20 miles per hour, but they can travel up to 70 miles per hour. Both large and small tornadoes can cause serious damage.
Make sure you stay informed about if and when a tornado is going to strike in your area. We show you how, as well as how to tell that a tornado is on its way.
Signs That A Tornado Is Approaching
You’re minding your own business when you look up at the sky and see that the clouds are tinted green and the sky is dark.
Those are warning signs that a tornado is developing, but even though we always associate a funnel cloud with the arrival of a tornado, this isn’t always visible. There are some other important signs to look out for:
- There’s large hail without rain. It’s common for large hail to occur in the immediate vicinity of a tornado.
- The wind has died down and the air is very still. This usually happens before a tornado strikes. Tornadoes are usually produced near a thunderstorm’s edges, and weirdly enough you might see sunlit or clear skies behind a tornado.
- You can see a cloud of debris that’s getting closer. A debris cloud that can be seen underneath a thunderstorm confirms that a tornado is present, even if there’s no condensation funnel.
- A loud sound can be heard. This sound has been compared to the rumbling, roaring sound of a freight train. Interestingly, if a tornado is occurring in an open area of land, it will sound like a waterfall. It sounds more like a thundering sound when it occurs in a populated region.
How To Stay Safe During A Tornado
If a tornado is approaching, you have to ensure you stay safe.
You need to prepare yourself and your family so that should a tornado strike in your region, you’ll know what to do. Here are some of the most important things to do.
- Stock up on new batteries and a battery-operated radio so you can hear the latest weather updates.
- Ensure you have a safe shelter, which could be a basement. It has to be an inside room that doesn’t have windows and which is located on the lowest floor. Examples of rooms include a closet or bathroom.
- Hide underneath something stable and strong, such as a heavy, sturdy table.
- Have items that you can cover yourself with, such as a mattress, sleeping bag, or blanket, and protect your head.
- Set up an emergency kit, which contains medication, water, and non-perishable food.
How To Get Tornado Alerts
An important part of preparing for a tornado is getting information about it and if – or when – it’s on its way to you. There are two kinds of warnings related to tornadoes.
- Tornado watch – this means you need to be prepared because tornados in your area are a possibility. Make sure you’ve checked your emergency supplies and have a safe room where you and your family can go, such as a basement. The Storm Prediction Center releases tornado watch notifications for counties, and the monitored area is usually large as it covers counties or states that could be affected.
- Tornado warning – this means you have to take action because a tornado is approaching. It might have already been seen. When you get a tornado warning, you have to take cover in your safe room and stay away from windows. If you’re in a building, go to the lowest floor. If you’re in a mobile home or a vehicle, make sure you go to a sheltered area and protect yourself from any flying debris. Tornado warnings are released by your local forecast office, and they usually include information about a smaller area, such as a small county or city.
It’s essential to check both of these regularly and continue getting weather updates because a tornado’s strength is only fully known when it touches down.
If there are storms forecast for your area, that’s a sign you should keep checking the weather updates in case a tornado is being predicted. Almost all tornadoes require a thunderstorm in order to form.
How long do tornadoes last?
Tornadoes will last about five minutes on average, but they can stick around for hours or appear for just a few seconds.
Why does the sky look green before a tornado?
This is thought to be because of color from water droplets that are suspended in a storm and which absorb red sunlight. The color combination produces a green hue.
How many tornadoes occur in the U.S. every year?
There are approximately 1,200 tornadoes annually in the U.S., but this number can change from one year and location to another.
Don’t get taken by surprise by a tornado. By being prepared for the worst-case scenario, you can protect yourself and your family.
In this article, we’ve featured some important information you need to know about tornados, such as what signs to look out for that hint one is approaching and where to get tornado warnings.