One of nature’s most violent storms, tornadoes can appear suddenly and without warning. They are invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears. Planning and practicing specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter of survival. Be prepared to act quickly. Keep in mind that while tornadoes are more common in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest, they can occur in any state and at any time of the year, making advance preparation vitally important.

When a tornado warning is issued:

  • Take shelter in a cellar or basement, if one is available.
  • If an underground shelter is not available, go to an interior hallway or small room away from windows, doorways and outside walls.
  • If you are outside and shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. Do not seek shelter under an overpass or bridge.
  • Mobile homes and trailers should be evacuated for more secure protection.
  • Assemble a family preparedness kit and create your emergency plan that designates a place for your family to meet both in and outside your immediate neighborhood.
  • Know the name of the county in which you live and the surrounding counties to determine your level of danger.
  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio, or local radio and television broadcasts for storm updates.

Frequently Asked Question: What is the difference between a tornado watch and warning? The National Weather Service defines:

Tornado Watch: as an area shaped like a parallelogram, where tornadoes and other kinds of severe weather are possible in the next several hours. It does not mean tornadoes are imminent - just that you need to be alert, and be prepared to take shelter if tornadoes do occur or a warning is issued. This is the time to turn on local TV or radio, turn on your weather radio and its alarm switch, make sure you have ready access to safe shelter, and make your friends and family aware of the potential for tornadoes in the area. The Storm Prediction Center issues tornado and severe thunderstorm watches.

Tornado Warning: as a situation where either a tornado has been spotted or Doppler radar indicates a thunderstorm circulation which can spawn a tornado. When a tornado warning is issued for your town or county, take immediate safety precautions. Local National Weather Service offices issue tornado warnings.

Click here for more Tornado Frequently Asked Questions provided by the Storm Prediction Center.

Other disasters include:

Click here to get a kit & make a plan.