Texas averages 125 tornadoes every year- more than any other state. Oklahoma comes in second with an average of 57 per year.
Twisters can occur at any time of year but spring and summer are considered tornado season around here. And while tornadoes can happen at any time of day, they’re most likely to occur between 3 and 9 p.m. So when your afternoon talk show or evening sitcom is interrupted for a tornado watch or warning—pay attention and don’t go outside!
When a Tornado Watch or Warning Has Been Issued, Look out For:
- Dark, often greenish sky
- Wall cloud/Supercell (a heavy, lowering cloud that is rain-free and may begin to rotate)
- Large hail
- Loud roar; similar to a freight train
- Some tornadoes appear as a visible funnel extending only partially to the ground. Look for signs of debris below the visible funnel.
- Tornadoes can be obscured by rain or nearby low-hanging clouds.
SOURCE: Nature’s Most Violent Storms, A Preparedness Guide, USDC, NOAA, NWS
Tornado Safety Tips:
- Designate a shelter area in your home or place of business, such as a basement, and go there during severe weather.
- If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture. Note: Lower-level interior bathrooms provide the best protection if no basement is available. The plumbing provides additional sturdiness to the walls.
- Stay away from windows.
- Don’t try to outrun a tornado in your car—leave it immediately and seek shelter in a sturdy building.
- Mobile homes should always be abandoned during severe weather.If no shelter is available, get out of vehicles and find the most low-lying area (ditch, ravine, etc.) lay flat on your stomach and cover your head with your hands.
- Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that advance warning is not possible. Remain alert for signs of an approaching tornado and watch for flying debris.
TORNADO FACT VS. FICTION
Fiction: Areas near rivers, lakes, and mountains are safe from tornadoes.
Fact: No place is safe from tornadoes. In the late 1980’s, a tornado swept through Yellowstone National Park leaving a path of destruction up and down a 10,000-foot mountain.
Fiction: The low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to “explode” as the tornado passes overhead.
Fact: Violent winds and debris slamming into buildings cause most structural damage.
Fiction: Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
Fact: Opening windows allows damaging winds to enter the structure. Leave the windows alone; instead, immediately move to a safe place.