It’s April in Texas and while past experiences have us concluding that tornadoes can happen nearly any time of the year here, the risk significantly begins to ramp up during Springtime. It’s important for all Texans to have a tornado preparedness plan and this week on the Wire blog we’re breaking out the flashlights and crank radios for tornado preparedness.
Part of tornado preparedness is understanding tornadoes. They’re a rotating column of air extending down from strong thunderstorms. Sometimes you can see them as a funnel cloud and most of the time are accompanied by hail and lightning. Roughly 1,200 tornadoes strike the U.S. each year and while every state can be at risk, Texas lies in the lower section of ‘Tornado Alley’, the portion of the country where tornadoes occur frequently. Tornadoes tend to start popping up during the Spring and Summer months and tend to form between 3PM and 9PM.
Before a tornado:
· Identify safe rooms built to FEMA criteria or ICC500 storm shelters or other potential protective locations in sturdy buildings near your home, work, and other locations you frequent so you have a plan for where you will go quickly for safety when there is a Warning or an approaching tornado.
· For schools, malls, and other buildings with long-span roofs or open space plans, or many occupants, ask the building manager to identify the best available refuge.
· Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
· Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
· Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms.
· Look for the following danger signs:
o Dark, often greenish sky
o Large hail
o A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
o Loud roar, like a freight train.
o If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
An important part of tornado preparedness is knowing a couple terms and what they mean. If you flip on the local weather and see ‘Tornado Watch’, it means that weather conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form. Be sure to have your emergency kit and be ready to execute your tornado preparedness plan. If you hear sirens or see ‘Tornado Warning’ displayed, that means a tornado has formed and has been sighted. This is when you execute your preparedness plan and seek shelter.
There’s much more to understanding tornadoes and the science behind them and while they can be frightening, it’s important that we take the time to stay one step ahead and understand that while we can’t control Mother Nature, Texans are resilient to whatever she throws our way. For more information on tornado preparedness, visit the Ready.gov webpage.
Jackson is a digital film and video production/social media specialist that not only enjoys those roles as a job but as a hobby as well. In his free time Jackson creates videos for his YouTube channel about his passions in auto culture.