Tornado Safety Tips: Tornado Season
As spring tornadoes continue to leave paths of destruction across the country, RemainSafe continues to spread awareness concerning tornado safety. As a company, RemainSafe takes this responsibility very seriously, and we have assembled five tornado safety tips to help our customers become better prepared as tornado season continues.
Know the Difference Between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning
According to NOAA, a tornado watch means tornadoes are possible in your area. You should be prepared for the event of a tornado, though none have been sighted yet. However, this does not mean you should go about your day per usual, you should have your safe space ready and be on high alert and weather aware. Keep in touch with local weather updates online or via weather radio.
A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Once a tornado warning has been issued, move to your safe space immediately. NOAA also states that warnings are typically issued in smaller areas that are the most likely to be affected by the located storm. They usually only encompass one city or county.
Know Your State and County Alert Systems – Outdoor Sirens Are Not Designed For Those In doors
RemainSafe is headquartered in the state of Alabama and we’ll use Alabama as an example. Montgomery, Ala. based, WSFA identifies three types of severe weather alerts used in the state, including two types of outdoor sirens and electronic alerts. The outdoor sirens are county-wide sirens and polygon-based sirens. In their article “Understanding Alabama’s Tornado Siren Notification Systems” they state that outdoor sirens are not designed for those indoors, but for those who may be outside during a severe weather event. Do not wait to hear an outdoor siren to take cover. Instead, listen to a NOAA weather radio, or use an app offered by a local weather station for indoor alerts. According to NOAA, a NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. NWR broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information on your state and county’s tornado or weather alert systems, contact your local Emergency Management Agency (EMA) office.
Tornadoes can Spawn With or Without Rain
According to Missouri Storm Aware, it does not have to be raining for a tornado to travel. Tornadoes typically form on the edge of a thunderstorm but are not always surrounded by heavy rain. Since tornadoes can stay on the ground for over 50 miles, it’s not always guaranteed that the rain from the thunderstorm will be carried along with it. In more humid environments, rain is more likely to occur alongside a tornado, but do not assume you are safe once it has stopped raining.
Tornadoes are Often Invisible
NSSL points out that tornadoes truly are just destructive pillars of wind with no visible body, saying “Because wind is invisible, it’s hard to see a tornado unless it forms a condensation funnel made up of water droplets, dust and debris.” The only time a tornado is visible is when it has already caused enough destruction to pick up visible particles and debris. Be aware of strong winds and stay in touch with local weather authorities. Never depend on your ability to see a tornado.
Where to Go to Protect Yourself
In homes with a basement, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System advises seeking refuge near the basement wall in the most sheltered and deepest belowground part of the basement. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down. In homes without a basement, they advise taking cover in the smallest room, such as a closet or bathroom, or in an interior hallway with no windows. They also recommend covering your head with your hands or putting on a safety helmet, such as a bike helmet, if you have one available.
When is Tornado Season in Your Area?
NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory identifies several varying tornado seasons in the U.S. based on regions. In the southern Plains including Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, tornado season is from May into early June. In the northern Plains and upper Midwest including North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota, tornado season is in June or July. On the Gulf Coast, including Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and southern parts of Texas, the Washington Post identifies tornado season as April through June. It is crucial to understand that tornadoes do not only occur during tornado season. Conditions for tornadoes can become favorable at anytime, anywhere.
It’s best to be prepared and informed in any severe weather event. For peace of mind this tornado season, RemainSafe recommends reaching out to your local weather authorities with any questions or concerns. If you are considering investing in a residential, commercial or community storm shelter, reach out to our team. We’re happy to help.