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Disaster Prep: Tornado preparedness and safety

Casualty|Property
Disaster Response Center

June 15, 2020

In this installment of Disaster Prep, we focus on how to minimize damage to commercial and residential structures in the event of a tornado, including actions to take to stay safe during a tornado.

With wind speeds that can exceed 300 mph, tornadoes can cause devastating damage and loss of life. The most violent tornadoes can level almost any structure. Although there are more tornadoes in the Midwest, Southeast and South areas of the U.S., they can occur anywhere. There is no such thing as guaranteed safety in the event of a tornado, but there are some practical measures you can take to prepare for and remain safe during and after a tornado.

Being aware of these tornado danger signs can help:

  • Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
  • Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base (not all tornadoes have a funnel).
  • Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are obscured by heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.
  • Some tornadoes may be almost invisible if they have not lofted dirt or debris into the air.
  • Loud, continuous roar or rumble that doesn’t fade in a few seconds.
  • Bright blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). This means power lines are being snapped by very strong winds or a tornado.
  • Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning, especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.

Download our guide on tornado preparedness and safety at the link below for more information including:

  • Precautions to minimize damage
  • Monitoring weather conditions
  • What to do during a tornado
  • Tornado safety do’s and don’ts
  • Tips for avoiding injury after a tornado
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Disaster Prep: Tornado preparedness and safety PDF 2.6 MB
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