What To Know About Tornadoes: Warnings And Tips On How To Stay Safe
Pictorial Representation of A Tornado

Tornadoes are natural phenomena capable of causing immense destruction of properties and at worse, loss of life. Therefore, it is very important to understand their meanings, warnings, and safety measures that can significantly reduce the risk they pose.

In the United States, it is no surprise to see tornados manifesting themselves, with this summer bringing some pronounced weather conditions to the US shores, with tornadoes vastly ravaging some parts of Chicago.

Chicago Skyline on July 12, 2023, the day of a Tornado at O’Hare Airport, taken by James M Kay.

This brings us to explore some essential information about tornadoes, including their formation, warning signs, and steps to stay safe during a possible event in this article.

What Are Tornadoes?

Tornadoes are violent, vertical columns of rotating air that extend from a thunderstorm (A cumuliform cloud) to the ground. These storms are mostly followed by strong winds, torrential rain, and lightning. The winds top up to 250 miles an hour and are capable of clearing a pathway a mile wide and 50 miles long. Tornadoes can develop swiftly and strike without warning, making them one of nature’s most unpredictable forces.

Tornadoes are formed when certain atmospheric conditions come together. They occur when warm, moist air collides with cooler, drier air, resulting in instability in the atmosphere. As the warm air begins to rise, it creates a rotating updraft called a mesocyclone. If this condition favors the storm’s growth, the mesocyclone will extend downward, forming a tornado.

Tornado Warning Signs

Recognizing the warning signs of an approaching tornado is crucial for your safety. These warnings are issued by the National Weather Service’s local forecasting offices, in conjunction with the Storm Prediction Center which relies on advanced radar systems to issue official notifications.

The warnings are issued upon noticing signs that include; dark, greenish skies, low-hanging and rotating clouds, a roar resembling a freight train, and large hailstones.

before when these warnings are being issued, being prepared can make a significant difference in minimizing the tornado’s impact. You should do the following in preparation;

  • Designate a safe area in your home such as a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room on the lowest floor.
  • Stock this area with essential supplies, including a battery-powered weather radio, a first-aid kit, flashlights, and non-perishable food items.
  • Regularly review and practice your tornado emergency plan with your family members to ensure everyone knows what to do during an emergency.

How To Stay Safe During Tornadoes

The following instructions should be taken immediately to stay safe when a warning is issued or you spot the signs of an impending tornado.

  • Move quickly to the designated safe area in your home and take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture or use a mattress to shield yourself from flying debris.
  • If you live in an apartment building or mobile home, seek a nearby storm shelter or community safe room.
  • Avoid windows and seek refuge in the lowest level possible ( the basement is best advised in this situation)
  • Stay informed by listening to a battery-powered weather radio or accessing emergency alerts on your mobile device.

What To Do After The Tornadoes

These are the things you should do after a tornado has passed;

  • Exit your safe area and assess the damage.
  • Carefully look out for downed power lines, broken gas lines, and other hazards that may pose risks.
  • Check on your neighbors and offer assistance if needed.
  • Document any damage to your property by taking photographs for insurance purposes.
  • Stay tuned to local news or weather updates for further instructions or additional storms in the area.

Remember tornadoes can strike at any time and cause unimaginable chaos, but prior preparation and information can significantly increase your chances of being safe. Preparedness and vigilance are crucial to surviving tornado events. Stay informed, have an emergency plan in place, and always prioritize your safety when severe weather threatens your area.

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