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Tornadoes are violent by nature. They are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornado intensities are classified on the Fujita Scale with ratings between F0 (weakest) to F5 (strongest). Although severe tornadoes are more common in the Plains States, tornadoes have been reported in every state.


Know the Difference

Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!

Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).

How to Prepare for a Tornado

    • During any storm, listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings.
    • Know your community's warning system. Communities have different ways of warning residents about tornados, with many having sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes.
    • Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
    • Practice periodic tornado drills so that everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching.
    • Consider having your safe room reinforced. Plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection can be found on the FEMA web site.
    • Prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
    • Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
    • Watch for tornado danger signs:

̶ Dark, often greenish clouds – a phenomenon caused by hail

̶ Wall cloud – an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm

̶ Cloud of debris

̶ Large hail

̶ Funnel cloud – a visible rotating extension of the cloud base

̶ Roaring noise





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