Early Storm Warning

What is a Tornado?

A tornado is the most violent atmospheric storm. A tornado is defined as a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 mph or more.

Damage paths can be more than one mile wide and 50 miles long.

According to the National Weather Service, tornadoes occur in many parts of the world. These destructive forces of nature are found most frequently in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains during the spring and summer months.

On average, 800 tornadoes are reported nationwide, resulting in 80 deaths and more than 1,500 injuries.

A Tornado Warning vs. a Watch

A tornado watch is when conditions are favorable for producing a tornado. When a tornado watch is issued, keep an eye on the weather and go over the tornado safety plan with your family. If weather conditions worsen, seek shelter.

A tornado warning is when a tornado has been spotted. In the case of a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately

Tornado Danger Signs

When a tornado is approaching, a dark, often greenish sky, a wall cloud and large hail may appear. A loud roar, like that of a freight train, may be heard. An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. This is the calm before the storm. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm and it is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

How to be best prepared for an emergency

The program focuses on having a ‘go bag’ for taking in the event you have to evacuate your home or business. Some circumstances require that we immediately need to leave due to earthquake, fire, tornado etc. Consider an event happening requiring you to leave in less than 1 minute!

Do not get caught unprepared – you can be ready, start today. A backpack (a school type backpack), handy to store items that you will need to survive on your own, perhaps for a day or longer. Here are a few items that could save your life.

Pair of comfortable pants

Cotton pull-over shirt (cut off sleeves if it is hot)

Pair of sturdy comfortable shoes, socks and a cap (shade your face)

Spare pair of glasses.

First-aid kit

Small bottle of hydrogen peroxide (for cuts)


Pocketknife with tools

Roll of duct tape (many uses)


Power bars (foil wrapped) kept inside sealable plastic bags

Water container (consider an empty wine bag with spout)

Leather work gloves for handling debris, and avoiding splinters

Dust mask

Eye goggles

Small package of rope (hang tarp over strung rope) for shelter

Pocket size reflective blanket (uses body heat to maintain warmth)

Whistle (to signal for help)

Marking spray paint to write messages

Copy of your ID or previous utility bill showing your address (to prove where you live)

Written copy of family and friends phone numbers kept in plastic bag


Matches in plastic bags or sealable plastic container

Supply of your medications with appropriate medicine containers

Deck of cards – useful to pass the time

Family photos (CD disk).

Large trash bag(s) useful for shelter or a rain poncho.

Phone charger

Cash – Small denominations

Pepper spray

Find a sturdy walking stick

Sharpie permanent marker, pen, pencil, paper (writing messages)

Flashlight with spare batteries

Glow sticks to signal others

Hand crank emergency radio

Be Prepared Before the Storm Hits

By the time a tornado is heading toward you, it is usually too late to plan. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, you should:

  1. Conduct tornado drills each tornado season.
  2. Designate an area in the home as a shelter, and practice having everyone in the family go there in response to a tornado threat.
  3. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it is often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person. This will help should the family be separated during the storm.

 Preparing a Tornado Safety Kit

The American Red Cross suggests that you assemble a "disaster supplies kit" that you keep in your shelter area. The kit should contain:

  1. A first aid kit with essential medication in addition to the usual items
  2. A battery powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries
  3. Canned and other non-perishable foods and a hand-operated can opener
  4. Bottled water
  5. Candles and matches
  6. Sturdy shoes and work gloves
  7. Cash and credit cards
  8. Written instructions on how to turn off your home’s utilities

After a Tornado:

  1. Help injured or trapped people.
  2. Give first aid when appropriate.
  3. Don't try to move the seriously injured unless they are in immediate danger of further injury
  4. Call for help.
  5. Turn on a radio or television to get the latest emergency information.
  6. Stay out of damaged buildings.
  7. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
  8. Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  9. Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, or gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately.
  10. Leave the building if you smell gas or chemical fumes.
  11. Take pictures of the damage, both to the house and its contents, for insurance purposes.
  12. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance - infants, elderly, and people with disabilities.
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