Tornadoes: Natures Violent Twisting Storms

When you think about tornadoes, what visual image pops up in your mind?

Perhaps you think back to the Wizard of Oz where the tornado picks up Dorothy’s house and tosses it into the land of the munchkins? Tornadoes are one of the most powerful and destructive forces in nature. Here’s some advice on how to prepare for a tornado and what to do if you’re caught in a twister’s path.

That raises a few questions:

  • What is a tornado?
  • What are the signs of a tornado?
  • What is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?

What is a tornado?

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm all the way down to the ground. They are often called twisters or funnel clouds for a reason! Imagine a storm that:

  • Reaches 300 miles per hour
  • Leaves a path of damage up to 1 mile wide and 50 miles long

Tornadoes are deadly. Just because you don’t live in Kansas where Dorothy lived, don’t think you are safe. Did you know that twisters have been reported in every state of the nation?

What are the signs of a tornado?

Open your eyes and ears.

  1. Look for a strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
  2. Look for a funnel shaped cloud.
  3. Look for whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base. This is because tornadoes don’t always have a funnel!
  4. Look and listen for hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. (This is because that many tornadoes are hidden in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.
  5. Listen for a  loud, continuous roar or rumble. Some people have compared it to the sound a freight train makes. It’s usually longer than a crack of thunder which only lasts a few seconds.
  6. Look for weird Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes near the ground of a thunderstorm. These are best visible in the dark at night.
  7. Look out for a dark, often greenish sky

What is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?

What is a tornado watch?

Meteorologists give us the heads up that a potential tornado can pop up in a particular area. What should you do?

  • Review and discuss your emergency plan with your family. 
  • Know where your go-bag is located.
  • Do you have flashlights, water, and food ready in your safe room area?
  • Be ready to drop what you are doing in case you hear of a tornado warning or the see or hear the sound of a freight train coming your way.

What is a tornado warning?

This means that a meteorologist spotted one on the weather radar or someone has reported seeing one touch down.

  • Do not waste one moment.
  • Stay away from the windows.
  • Grab your supplies and go to your safe area of your home, preferably a basement, storm cellar or an interior closet or bathroom.

Looking for more tornado safety tips?

Your neighbors at InsuranceHub are standing by to answer any of your questions about tornado coverage and your homeowner’s insurance. Why not give them a call now for a home insurance checkup?