Tornadoes happen all over the world, but they happen more frequently in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains during the spring and summer months. Tornadoes are known as Nature’s most violent storms causing death and destruction to all that is in their path which can be over a mile wide and 50 miles long.
What causes a tornado? They develop when the air is warm and moist in the front of eastward moving cold fronts. In the spring moths, thunderstorms often develop along what is known as a dry-line. This means that there is warm, moist air to the east and hot, dry air to the west. The dry-line separates the two areas of air. As the dry-line moves east, thunderstorms that have the potential of producing tornadoes can develop.
Tornadoes come in many shapes and sizes. A weak tornado is one in which the wind speeds of the tornado are less than 110 miles per hour. These tornadoes can last as little as one minute to over ten minutes. A strong tornado is one in which the wind speeds reach anywhere from 110 to 205 miles per hour. These tornadoes can last up to 20 minutes or longer. Violent tornadoes have great wind speeds, can last over an hour, and leave mass death and destruction to anything that is in their paths.
Tornadoes can happen anywhere and at any time. They are more common during the hours between 3 and 9 p.m. Tornadoes generally move from the southwest to the northeast, but can change their direction and path without any notice. Tornadoes are not prejudice, or choosey, they will hit anywhere at any given time, and destroy anything and everything possible that is in their way.
Because tornadoes can be so unpredictable, it is important to heed any warning that you may get about tornado activity in your area. It you are given a tornado watch for your area, it means that the development of tornadoes is possible. You should keep an eye on the sky and listen for updated information. Signs in the sky that a tornado may be approaching are a dark, maybe greenish looking sky, a wall cloud, large hail, or large amounts of hail, and a loud roaring sound that may resemble that of a freight train. If you see any of those signs in the sky, or you hear a tornado warning go into effect, you should take cover immediately. Do not go by the windows or doors, go to the safest place in your home, preferably a basement, if you are in your car, get out of it, do not try to out-run a tornado in your vehicle, get out and find a ditch or drain to take cover in. If you live in a mobile home, you should leave and go to a safer place at once.
There are things that should be done long before the threat of a tornado is upon you. Be prepared! Have a plan in place for your home, work, and school, and be sure everyone is aware of the plan. Practice your plan. You should be aware of the area in which you live. This way, if you hear a warning for a nearby area, you know how close the threat is to you. Have a weather radio or FM radio with batteries in your shelter area and listen for updates on the weather. It is always better to be safe than to be sorry.
Too many times, lives are lost during a tornado because the person or people did not pay much attention to the warnings that were issued. This is a senseless and preventable loss of life. Be aware and be safe.