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Tornado Warning Signs

Each year about a thousand tornados touch down in the US. Only a small percentage of these actually strike building. However, every year a number of people are killed or injured. The probability that a tornado will kill you is very small. Nevertheless, you can greatly reduce the possibility of being injured by following a few simple guidelines:

One of the most important things you can do is to be alert to the onset of severe weather. Most deaths and injuries occur to people who are unaware and uninformed. Young children may not recognize a serious weather situation. The ill, elderly, or invalids may not be able to reach shelter in time. Those who ignore the weather because of indifference or overconfidence will not perceive the danger. So it is vitally important to stay aware of local weather conditions.

If you haven't recently listened to a weather report but you notice strange clouds moving in and the clouds begin to look stormy, turn to your local radio or television station and get a weather update. If you have satellite or cable TV, checking the Weather Channel may be your quickest source of information. Some people find that purchasing a NOAA capable weather radio is a wise investment. Especially if they have limited access to television.

If a tornado "WATCH" has been issued, it means that a tornado is "Possible".

If a tornado "WARNING" has been issued, it means that a tornado has actually been spotted, or is strongly indicated by radar, and it is time to immediately seek safe shelter.

What To Be Alert For

If ANY of the following conditions are present you should immediately seek safe shelter.

  • A sickly green or greenish black color in the approaching clouds or the clouds above.
  • If you are under a current tornado watch, then falling hail should be considered a dangerous sign. Hail alone, in the absence of a tornado watch is fairly common and is not necessarily a sign of an approaching tornado.
  • You notice a strange quiet immediately after a thunderstorm.
  • You see fast-moving clouds, especially clouds that are rotating or appear to be converging towards one place in the sky.
  • You hear a sound like a waterfall or rushing air that soon turns to a roar. This roar sound has been described as the sound of an oncoming locomotive or jet plane.
  • You see debris dropping from the sky (especially papers and perhaps cancelled checks that are from an address a mile or more away.
  • There is an obvious "funnel shaped" cloud that is rotating. The cloud may contain debris such as sticks, branches, or leaves being pulled upwards.

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