Tornadoes: Emergency Preparation

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms.

It is not rare to see lightning storms near tornadoes. Image courtesy

All types of vehicles can be blown over, rolled, crushed, lifted, or otherwise destroyed by even a weak tornado. People have been hurt or killed when large trees crushed their recreational vehicle.

NOAA Weather Radio

The National Weather Service continuously broadcasts updated weather warnings and forecasts that can be received by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service) Weather Radios sold in many stores. The average range is 40 miles, depending on topography. The National Weather Service recommends purchasing a radio that has both a battery backup and a tone-alert feature which automatically alerts you when a watch or warning is issued.

Canada’s tornado warning system

Environment Canada is responsible for warning the public when conditions exist that may produce tornadoes. It does this through radio, television, newspapers, its internet site, as well as through its weather phone lines.

If you live in one of Canada’s high-risk areas, you should listen to your radio during severe thunderstorms.

A tornado touching the ground. Image courtesy

What to Listen For…

TORNADO WATCH: Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms.

TORNADO WARNING: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. If a tornado warning is issued for your area and the sky becomes threatening, move to your pre-designated place of safety.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH: Severe thunderstorms are possible in your area.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING: Severe thunderstorms are occurring.

Look out for:

  • Dark, often greenish sky
  • Wall cloud
  • Large hail
  • Loud roar, similar to a freight train

Safety Tips

  • Be familiar with your location by keeping a highway map handy that includes the county names and boundaries (National Weather Service severe weather warnings are issued based on counties)
  • Prepare for tornadoes by gathering emergency supplies including food, water, medications, batteries, flashlights, important documents, road maps, and a full tank of fuel
  • When a tornado approaches, anyone in its path should move to a pre-designated shelter—preferably a designated storm shelter or basement; if an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor
  • Follow the basic tornado safety guidelines—get in, get down, cover up
  • In all cases, stay away from windows, outside walls, and doors
  • Seek additional protection by getting underneath large, solid pieces of furniture
  • DO NOT try to outrun a tornado in your recreational vehicle or auto
  • Recreational vehicles and mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned
  • Highway overpasses and bridges are NOT tornado shelters—and should be avoided
  • Ditches, culverts, and ravines should be used only as an absolute last resort; you will be exposed to flying debris, rain, hail, lightning, and extreme wind
  • In all cases, get as close to the ground as possible, protect your head, and watch for flying debris

Two tornadoes next to each other. Image courtesy

Check List for RVers

  • Check with RV park management regarding their storm warning system and location of nearest tornado shelter
  • Include the following items in “Tornado Emergency Kit: water, flashlight, cell phone, radio, extra batteries, vehicle keys, cash, credit cards, essential documents, prescription medications, jacket or rain gear

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service (NOAA) and National Geographic

Worth Pondering…
You don’t want to be in a vehicle when a tornado hits. It’s too easy to pick it up.

—Kent Prochazka

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