Detecting A Tornado

Tornados are a threat to the mid west, learn how to identify if a storm is building in the sky above you.

How To Detect If A Tornado Is Coming

tornado building in sky

It really doesn’t matter where you live in the United States; you are bound to be met with unusual forces of nature. California is known for their earthquakes and the southern states get their fair share of hurricanes. The Midwest, however, is home to what some call the nastiest of all of Mother Nature’s storms—the tornado. With advanced weather systems that can identify storm fronts we can estimate when there may be a tornado coming into town, but exactly where it touches down and begins it’s rage of terror is anyone’s guess. Being prepared is the best thing you can do, and having a safety shelter installed in your home is the perfect place to start. To learn more about Tornado Shelters in Oklahoma you can visit

Tornadoes are fast moving funnel clouds that touch down on the ground, causing massive destruction in their wake. They can travel across the land at speeds from 30 to 70 miles per hour and the wind speeds can be up to 250 miles per hour! Oftentimes, they materialize with little warning, which is why it is important to know the signs of an imminent tornado. These storms generally form in the spring and summer months, and in the late afternoon or early evening; however, a tornado can strike any season at any time. Approximately 1200 tornadoes hit the United States alone each year, so preparation is key to your safety.

tornado developing

Media outlets and the National Weather Service will issue a tornado watch, and this is different from a tornado warning. A tornado watch means that development of a tornado is likely, due to weather conditions. Essentially, it is the ‘perfect storm’ of conditions to create a figurative ‘perfect storm.’ A tornado watch is issued as an announcement to stay alert. A tornado warning means that a tornado has already formed and has been located by people or by radar. This means you need to find shelter immediately. It is important to know the direction the storm is heading so you know how much time you have to get to safety. Since tornadoes form rapidly, there may not always be a tornado warning, so you need to know what to look for to spot one yourself, especially if you live in a tornado danger zone, comprised mostly of the Midwestern states.

The most obvious indication of a tornado is the actual funnel cloud itself! If you see a swirling funnel cloud reaching out from a thunderstorm, don’t hesitate to get to shelter. If you see the cloud base rotating while it moves along, you have yourself a tornado. A cloud wall might form; this is also a warning sign that you need to seek shelter. Watch the sky; if it develops into a dark, greenish-black hue, a tornado is on its way. This strange colored sky is caused by light reflecting off of hail, and there is generally a great deal of hail generated from a thunderstorm that precedes a tornado. The light that reflects off of the hail gives off a greenish glow, indicating the weather is ripe for a tornado. Keep a lookout for flying debris, too; a tornado will often whip up winds and throw debris around ahead of the actual funnel cloud. There are times when a tornado is preceded by a storm with sheets of rain and large hail, and then the wind shifts and suddenly, it’s dead calm and quiet. If it is followed by a low rumble, like a train approaching; this is the sound of an approaching tornado, so head for shelter! Watch the landscape, too; you may notice flashes of light in the distance. This could be a twister touching down and kicking up electrical transformers which add another element of danger.

tornado damage

It is imperative to pay attention to the weather and to be prepared for a tornado to strike at any time. You should prepare for a tornado by finding the lowest place in your home to seek shelter, preferably on the first floor or below. Investing in a storm shelter is an excellent idea, especially if you live in an area where tornados are prevalent. If you must stay in your home during the storm, try to stay away from windows due to flying glass and debris and do not open the windows to “depressurize” the home; it will not help. A basement is the best choice, but if your home does not have a basement, sitting in the tub in a windowless bathroom is a good choice, as is a doorway, hallway, closet or under a piece of furniture are also good spots in case the roof caves in or is blown off. Lie as flat as possible and cover your head with your arms. For added protection, put a mattress over you to shield you from flying debris. You will want to make sure that if you are positioned on the bottom level of the house that you are not directly under heavy furniture on the floors above you, in case they come crashing down on top of you. Wherever you stay, make sure you have provisions ready including a radio with batteries, a flashlight, canned food, water and items to keep you warm. You will want to have a first aid kit handy, too, just in case you need it. If you live in the mid-west, make sure you have tornado insurance!

Many times people get injured or killed in a tornado because they don’t prepare properly or they don’t know what to do. While it is important to know where to do when there is an impending tornado, it is equally crucial to know what NOT to do. Whatever you do, get indoors. If you are stuck in your car, crouch down and get on the floorboards. Stay away from buildings with flat roofs that can cave in and avoid being in a tall building. Remember, if you are in a skyscraper, head down to the lowest possible level, but make sure you take the stairs. The electricity will likely go out, and being stuck inside an elevator during a tornado is not safe. Likely the worst place you can be is inside a mobile home. If you have ever seen the devastation of a tornado, you will note that many mobile homes are generally picked up and strewn across the land like so many toys. You need a solid foundation for protection, so if a tornado is on its way, seek shelter elsewhere if possible.

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