Governor's Division of Emergency Management
Tornadoes can strike day or night any place at any time of the year. Learn the signs and take action.
• Tornadoes happen most often in spring and early summer. They often strike in the late afternoon or early evening when temperatures are highest. But they can happen anywhere-any time of day-any season of the year.
• This year, a small tornado struck in Texas at 7 a.m. January 13-damaging a building and cars in San Marcos. Florida tornadoes struck four counties after midnight of February 2, killing 20 people.
• When storms approach, monitor TV, radio and NOAA weather radio broadcasts. Keep a battery-powered radio for emergencies.
• A TORNADO WATCH is issued when a sever weather system may spawn tornadoes. It means watch the sky. A TORNADO WARNING lasts for one hour or less and it means take action right now. A tornado is on the ground or about to be on the ground.
• Tornado signs can include:
-A strong, persistent, rotating movement in the clouds
-A greenish black or coal black sky in daytime
-Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level at night- could mean power lines snapped by heavy wind
-Sudden hail or intense rain-followed by a dead calm or a rapid shift in the winds
-A loud, continuous roar or rumble
-Debris swirling up into the sky in a circular motion
• Remember, a tornado that does not look like it is moving to the left or right may be moving toward you.
When a tornado is sighted, get low and stay low. If you can, get inside--away from windows.
• When a tornado is sighted, get low and stay low.
• Never try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle. If you see a tornado, get out of the car. Take shelter in a ditch, ravine or culvert. Be alert to potential flooding.
• Do not seek shelter beneath an overpass. High winds and flying debris are likely to cause injuries.
• If you are in a mobile home, get out immediately. Walk or run to the nearest sturdy building-or take shelter in a ditch or ravine. If you are outside, lie flat and cover your head to protect yourself from flying debris.
• Avoid any area with a wide, unsupported roof. That includes auditoriums, cafeterias, gymnasiums, theaters or central courts at malls. Got to interior rooms with no windows.
• Most tornado fatalities result from injuries to the head or neck from flying debris. Protect yourself with thick padding such as blankets or mattresses- or quickly get under a sturdy piece of furniture-a table, bench or church pew.
• If you are in an office, hospital or nursing home, go to the lowest floor. Stay away from windows. Avoid elevators. Shelter in a stairwell, hallway, storage closet or bathroom.
• At school, follow the drill. Take shelter in an inside room, hallway, storage closet or stairwell. Avoid windows or any area with large amounts of glass.
• At home, take shelter in a room without windows on the lowest floor- a bathroom, hallway, closet or stairwell.
• If you are outside and there is no sturdy building nearby, take shelter in a low-lying area. Keep an eye out for flooding.
Prepare, plan and practice before a tornado hits.
• Have a family tornado plan. Ask about tornado plans in offices, stores or other areas you visit frequently. Learn the locations of interior shelters.
• Know where to shelter in the house. Store protective materials- such as blankets or sleeping bags- in shelter.
• Regularly practice a family tornado drill.
• In case family members are separated, plan a place to call to let others know you are safe. Plan a place to meet if you are cut off from your neighborhood.
• Monitor TV and radio broadcasts and NOAA weather radio. Listen for warnings. Listen to instructions from local officials.
• Remembers, practice the plan. Have a place to call and a place to meet.
Practice these safety precautions after the storm.
• Keep your family group together and wait for emergency personnel.
• Stay clam. Continue to monitor broadcasts. Listen for instructions from local officials or emergency personnel.
• Stay away from power lines or puddles with wires in them. They may still be hot
• Watch your step to avoid dangerous debris, sharp objects, nails or broken glass
• Damaged structures may collapse at any moment. Stay out!
• Do not use matches or lighters. Fuel tanks or propane tanks may be leaking.