Did you know that the United States has the highest incidence of tornadoes in the world? Before you are caught in a storm, be prepared with these tornado safety tips.
Where Are Tornadoes Most Common?
Although tornadoes have occurred in all 50 states, Tornado Alley (an area covering all or parts of Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas) experiences them most frequently.
In fact, Oklahoma City has been hit by more than 100 tornadoes. This is due to the cold polar air from Canada, warm tropical air from Mexico, and dry air from the Southwest clashing in the middle of the country. Tornadoes occur on every continent but Antarctica.
How to Predict a Tornado
Unlike hurricanes or other severe weather events, tornadoes are hard to predict almost up until they hit, but there are still signs of impending twisters that you can look out for:
- A pale green sky is an indicator that a tornado may occur. Although no one knows why this is, some people theorize that because tornadoes usually form in the afternoon, the longer red and yellow wavelengths of afternoon sunlight turn water-heavy, bluish clouds to green.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also advises to look out for the following danger signs: large hail; dark, low-lying clouds; and a loud roar, similar to that of a freight train.
What Tornado Warnings Mean
- A tornado watch indicates possible tornadoes in your area. Stay tuned to the radio or television news.
- A tornado warning means that a tornado is on the ground or has been detected by Doppler radar. Seek shelter immediately!
How to Survive a Tornado
- If you are indoors, take cover in the cellar or a small space (a closet or bathroom) in the interior of your home. If you can’t decide where to go, choose the bathroom. The bathtub is a good, solid structure to hunker down in.
- Stay away from windows!
- If you are outdoors, find a field or ditch away from items that can fly through the air. Lie down as flat as you can.
- Do not stay in a car or try to drive away from a tornado. Cars can be flung about by high winds or crushed by debris.
- If you have evacuated your home, do not return until it is deemed safe to do so by local officials.