- Strong, persistent rotation in a cloud base. (A cloud base looks like a rotating cylinder of clouds that descends below a storm.)
- Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base – tornadoes sometimes have no funnel.
- Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes 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 lightning 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.
Tornadoes Don't Just Hang Out in the Alley
[caption id="attachment_18849" align="alignright" width="300"] Tornado Alley[/caption] My family used to live in eastern Colorado, on the western edge of Tornado Alley. Every year we’d get many tornado watches and a few tornado warnings. So we were prepared. We had emergency supplies ready to grab and go, a NOAA radio on the counter and shelter plans with our children. Both my husband and I were trained EMTs and participated in a community-wide disaster exercise. None of that helped on the day I cowered in the basement of the hospital, an hour after giving birth to my daughter, while a tornado passed nearby. Or when the same thing happened right after my son was born. I’m choosing to not consider those events omens. Every state and nearly every county in the United States has seen tornadoes. Texas sees the most tornadoes per year, mostly due to the state’s sheer size, while Florida sees the most per area, according to NOAA. Even Alaska gets them. [caption id="attachment_18850" align="alignright" width="300"] The Delta Center (home of the Utah Jazz) was hit by a tornado in Salt Lake City in 1999.[/caption] Tornadoes can cross rivers, hills and cities. Numerous tornadoes have crossed the Mississippi River. An August 11, 1999 tornado in Salt Lake City crossed a canyon and hit the basketball arena for the Utah Jazz. Fortunately, no one was there. Elevation doesn’t matter. A hiker photographed a tornado at 12,000 feet in Sequoia National Park, Calif., on July 7, 2004. Tall buildings won’t stop tornadoes, either. Downtown St. Louis has seen at least four tornadoes, according to NOAA. The Los Angeles Basin sees as many weak tornadoes per tens of square miles as the Great Plains. Tornadoes mostly occur in the spring and summer. However, they hit every month of the year. “Tornadoes are like snowbirds — they winter in the South,” according to an April 22 article in U.S. Tornadoes. Parts of southern California and Arizona see more tornadoes in the autumn and winter because of the seasonal monsoon. Florida gets many, in part because hurricanes can bring tornadoes. Mississippi holds the sad distinction of hosting the most deadly tornadoes in each winter month: December, January and February, according to U.S. Tornadoes. The most important way to prepare for a tornado is to learn when one is coming. A NOAA weather radio can post updates on all kinds of weather. If you're looking for a good emergency weather radio, the Kaito Voyager Pro is an excellent choice. On average, the National Weather Service issues tornado warnings 13 minutes prior to a hit, but warning times vary greatly. Therefore, the NWS emphasizes knowing the signs of a tornado. The following signs are taken directly from the NWS.
I live in Florida & just this year it got bad with storms processing tornadoes. so I really don’t much what to do But I will learn & will be ready if one develops I hope.
in nc we get them. have had a few in the recent yrs. one just missed my house this past yr. we get more hurricanes.
Being as I have been a FL native and still live here, I am familiar with tornadoes. Most of ours come from hurricanes, but sometimes just a bad storm. It is always good to know the facts.
in nc we mostly get hurricanes. but we have been hit in the past few yrs with tornadoes. one missed my house this past yr.
I live in Southern Ohio an we aren’t overly prone here but there have tornado’s in the past. I have a room in the basement set up with water flashlights and a radio if we need to take shelter
very good tips! We live in central Illinois and have constant tornado watches and warnings
Love your tips great to know
OH and we get them here also. Been through a couple, one while in a camper.
I knew we get them but i didn’t know they were of that damage magnitude in SC. We try to keep the yard clear and free of anything that might get picked up and used as a missile by the winds especially during hurricane season.
I live in low risk Washington state, but I spent most of my life in Tornado alley of Western Kansas, Oklahoma panhandle and Texas.
Good to do
need to prepare – good info
Good read – reminds me that I need to update my family’s 72 hr kits.
We live in Houston, TX which is a high risk Tornado area. We keep our trees cut back, plenty of water, & food stocked. We have a few safety plans in place depending on which area of the house we are in & what time a Tornado hits.
One of the most important things we can do is teach our children what to do. We had a twister come up our canyon years ago- and twisters don’t often happen in Idaho- and our neighbors children were home alone. They sat at a plate glass window watching the trees being uprooted in the yard…
I live in Northern California and we have had a few small tornadoes in this area. We don’t have a basement shelter, but we do have a plan that our family knows and has practiced which is to hunker down in the bathtub and put a mattress over us. I have an emergency supply stored in a closet in the middle of our house and another one in the garage.
We are not a high risk in New Mexico
Jones Foxx Jr.
well I was shocked to learn the South has the highest death rate from them. Luckily the ones in my state kind of dance around my area. We have weather alerts on our phones and of course have go bags ready with important papers should we ever have to get the way of one and we [ family and friends] always make calls to one another if there are alerts or warnings of one so everyone is aware.
Living in Iowa we have had our share of tornadoes and did the storm chasing when I was younger. But now I just look to get safe when storm approach and keep everyone else safe.
Haven’t seen any here in SW Ohio, but we keep supplies on hand in case something happens. Bottled water, first aid kit, weather radio… all that good stuff. Thanks for the contest & the great information!!
We live in Tornado Alley in Texas, so we see lots of tornadoes! We have a “safe room” that is stocked with water, food, a weather radio, pillows, blankets, helmets, and a first aid kit. It also has extra clothes and footwear and flashlights. Go Bags are nearby. We are probably as prepared as one can be for tornadoes!
Have a good friend from high school who lives in Piedmont OK, have been trying to convince her prep for Tornados since they get them very regularly.
Shelley T Merrill
Tornado alley is right here! When we have had warnings and actual storms tear up the community, we have used our supplies to help our family members and those in our community. We have been very thankful for having heeded the counsel to ‘Be Prepared’!
Living in NYC, we don’t see many tornadoes
Catrina van Soolen
I live in Wichita, Is which is tornado alley. With the technology we have these days it is nice to know if I need to take my family over to my friend or sister who has a basement for the day. Other wise I have trained my child exactly what to do and where to go in the apartment and have our supplies ready in a bag easy to grab.
I had no clue that California got so many tornadoes. I knew we got earthquakes. I haven’t prepared for either a tornado or earthquake. I should start a preparedness kit.
I live in Oregon and we forget about tornados up here. Thanks for the reminder.
I have only witnessed one tornado in my state or area I was living in. I was young, living in Pennsylvania and a small tornado ripped up a field and uprooted a large tree onto someone’s house. Nobody was injured. We are not prepared for a tornado except for food supply.
I live in upstate New York, approximately 30 minutes from the Canadian border. ( we’re south of Montreal), Over the past 10 years or so we have had more tornadoes than we like to count. One actually just missing our housing development by 100’s of feet, as it followed Rte. 9 like a path and that same day when all of us parents went to pick up our kids from school we were all told to quickly shut off our vehicles, get inside, and take cover because there was a tornado coming through and the sirens at the Fire Station directly across the street were blaring. Thankfully, it missed us and didn’t cause any structural damage to any homes, or buildings in the area. We were all very blessed that day. There were a lot of tornadoes that touched down, a lot of uprooted trees, but no injuries, no damage to property, vehicles, or homes.
How prone is my state? I live in North Texas. I’d call that pretty prone.
Having grown up here, I’ve studied Tornadoes and Severe Weather my entire life. I have always had a weather radio handy, in alert mode. With the Internet now I have access to tools and information in real time. I’m also a Skywarn Storm Spotter for Collin County ARES.
We have a perfect spot to hide, just under the stairs.
I live in SW Oklahoma and a lot of the supercells start off as small storms in our area
We live in central Virginia, so we don’t see many tornado’s. But we have prepared in case of an emergency. We have about 6 months of dehydrated food and water supply.
Yes we are and we have a basement
We Moved From Florida To Kansas Almost 10 Years Ago. Before We Move People Would Ask Us If We Were Worried About Tornadoes Because Kansas Is In “Tornado Alley”. Kansas Actually Has FEWER Tornadoes Than Central And North Florida. The Only Major Difference Being Is Size. The Ones In Florida Are Large In Number, Small In Size. Kansas Has Fewer Numbers But They Can Be From 1/2 Mile And Up In Width..
I live in Utah. We’re not especially prone, but we still have a safe room in our basement stocked with enough of the essentials to last a few days.
Although we are not at risk in my part of New Mexico, I have family in tornado alley. I will be sure to carry a well-stocked bug-out bag when I visit!
I live in Ohio now, but grew up in Oklahoma. We have a family plan, drill every other month, keep 72 hours of supplies on hand, and keep our yard as free as possible of dead branches and other potential debris. But always looking for new ideas and advice to keep family safe!
Not very likely and I have not done any tornado specific preparations
My favorite book as a kid was Night Of The Twisters. Living in So. California they are not as big of a threat as other states but are similar to the sudden destruction of an earthquake. We have our go bags and two ‘family bags’ that will get us thru an emergency up to another 10 days. We also have small kits in our car (which need to be expanded when funds are available) and working on tool bags for each vehicle.
We will be traveling out of state to Wyoming next month so this is a good reminder to take a good car kit for our rental vehicle and to do some research for what natural occurrences happen in the states we will be driving through. Thanks!
nc is prone to hurricanes but mainly around the coast, however, we do get some in the piedmont area, we had one that hit close this past year. we also get tornadoes. had some in this state this year.
We have a weather radio on hand that we listen to when bad weather is in the area and we also have an emergency kit if bad weather strikes!! We live in MO and have our fair share of tornadoes here!
Unfortunately, tornadoes happen in every state. Since 1952, there have been over 400 tornadoes in the state of New York alone. That’s one reason why being prepared is always a good idea.
Even tho rare, here I. PA we recently had a tornado reported. I try to keep food and water available.
I LIVE IN NY NO TORNADO
There was a small tornado in SE Portland a couple months ago that put a trampoline on top of someone’s roof.
It’s smart to be prepared in case of a disaster.
I live in SC and we get them occasionally. We have a spare closet with blankets,bottled water and canned goods but it could be improved.
We get them every year here in Michigan.
DAWN MATEO DE ACOSTA
I LIVE IN FLORIDA AND WE JUST ABOUT 1 & 1/2 WEEKS AGO HAD A TORNADO TOUCH DOWN RIGHT DOWN THE STREET FROM US. I HAVE BEEN THROUGH MANY HURRICANES, (ALWAYS PREPARED) BUT TORNADOES HAPPEN WITH WAY LESS WARNING. SCARY.