Friday, June 7, 2013

Tornadoes - Safety First!

A tornado is a violent windstorm characterized by a twisting, funnel-shaped cloud. It is spawned by a thunderstorm or hurricane and develops when cool air overrides a layer of warm air, forcing the warm air to rise rapidly. The damage from a tornado is a result of the high wind velocity and wind-blown debris. Tornado season is generally March through August, but tornadoes can occur at any time of year. In addition, tornadoes can occur in any state, but are most frequent in an area known as “Tornado Alley”, which includes the midwestern states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas. Tornadoes usually develop in the afternoon and evening - over 80 percent of all tornadoes strike between noon and

The National Weather Service issues weather bulletins when tornadoes seem likely. A tornado watch means that conditions are right for a tornado to develop. Strong thunderstorms may also be predicted. At this time, you should stay alert for changing weather conditions and listen to the radio for further developments. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or is indicated by radar. This means the danger is very serious and you should head for a safe place.

Danger Signs:
    .. Tornadoes are formed by powerful thunderstorms, which frequently produce large hail. Tornadoes often emerge from near the hail-producing portion of the storm.
    .. A visible rotating extension of a cloud base is a sign that a tornado may develop.  A tornado is evident when one or more of the clouds turn greenish and a dark funnel descends.
    .. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.
    .. An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible.
    .. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still.

Safety Tips:
    .. Never try to outrun a tornado in your truck. Tornadoes can change direction quickly and can lift up a car or toss a truck through the air.
    .. Get out of your vehicle and take shelter in a nearby building. If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet. Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways, or shopping malls.
    .. If there is no time to get indoors, get out of your truck and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle. But be alert because flash floods can also occur in these areas.




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