A tornado is a violently rotating column of air descending from a thunderstorm and in contact with the ground. Though tornadoes are usually brief, lasting only a few minutes, they can sometimes last for more than an hour and travel miles, causing considerable damage and death.
The peak of the tornado season is April through June, but as this year has already showed, violent storms can spawn tornadoes anytime of year.
When a tornado threatens, keep in mind safety rules from the National Weather Service website:
• In homes and small buildings, go to the inner-most part of the lowest level.
• Stay away from windows and outside walls. Interior closets, halls and bathrooms are good places to go.
• If you do not have time to get to the lowest level, get under something sturdy like a bed.
• In school? Get under your desk.
• Abandon mobile homes, cars, and trucks. Get into a firmly built shelter. If none is available, lie flat in a low spot, ravine or culvert with your hands protecting your head.
• Finally, avoid using bridges and overpasses for shelter. Stopping under bridges and overpasses only leads to traffic jams and the possibility of a greater number of injuries than what would have otherwise occurred.
Common tornado myths to dispel:
• Opening a window to decrease (or equalize) the air pressure inside the home does nothing to decrease the damage. Even the strongest tornadoes do not lower the air pressure enough to cause a house to “explode.” Don’t waste the precious time; seek safety and leave the windows alone. The tornado will open them for you.
• The southwest corner of a basement is not the safest place to be in a tornado. Actually, the worst place to be is on the side from which the tornado is approaching … usually the south or southwest.
Links to other sources: