Good Morning Team,
The National Weather Service has predicted that 2019 could see us at an increased risk of numerous or more powerful thunderstorms. Thunderstorms are the birthplace of tornados. But not all powerful thunderstorms produce tornados, even those that rate very high on the risk scale. While powerful weather systems called “Supercells” can produce the most damaging and violent of tornados, others form even when conditions are not favorable. The truth is, even though scientists can predict the possibility, they don’t fully understand all the factors that lead to an actual tornadic event.
Tornados are defined as a rapidly spinning column of air, extending from a thunderstorm down to the earth. They can take on shapes beyond the classic funnel such as; an hourglass, wedge, rope, or cylinder. And while they have been recorded moving in all directions, they typically travel from southwest to northeast and can even backtrack occasionally. With wind speeds of up to 200+ mph, they can leave a path of destruction more than a mile wide and 50 miles long. The peak time for tornado formation is between 3:00 pm and 9:00 pm, but they have occurred at all times of the day.
No one can predict exactly how powerful a tornado will be nor are there any truly practical ways to measure their wind speed while they are in action. Ratings of their strength are usually given after the destruction they’ve caused is assessed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) website says that there is no guaranteed safety during a tornado. The most powerful and violent can level and blow away nearly any home and those within it. But there are many ways we can increase our survival odds. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us that this requires us to be prepared and be aware.
GET YOURSELF PREPARED:
Being prepared provides the best possibility of surviving a tornadic event.
ALWAYS STAY AWARE:
Whenever thunderstorms are expected, pay close attention to changing weather conditions. Stay tuned to a local radio, TV station, or a NOAA weather radio for updated information. The following weather signs may mean that a tornado is approaching.
If you should notice any of the above conditions, take cover immediately. You may not even see a tornado coming as it could be shrouded in rain. And while we do have Outdoor Tornado Sirens they are only meant to warn those who are outdoors. You may or may not be able to hear them where you are, especially if inside your home or workplace. If you do hear them, seek shelter immediately, but they should not be relied upon as your only warning method.
KNOW WHERE TO SHELTER
Flying and falling debris are the cause of most injuries and death during a tornado. Although there is no completely safe place during a tornado, some locations are much safer than others and are offered below from best to last resort…
And keep in mind, that thunderstorms, with or without a tornado, always carry the added risk of; lightning, large hail, damaging winds and heavy rains causing flash flooding. It’s plain to see that preparation, awareness and appropriate shelter are the key ingredients to successfully surviving the awesome power Mother Nature can sometimes throw at us. If your mental model is to wait and see, then you are solely at her mercy when the “big wind” arrives.
FYI: Our English word “tornado” is an altered form of the Spanish word “tronada” which translates to “thunderstorm.” The Spanish word was in turn taken from the Latin “tonare” meaning “to thunder.” Isn’t that fascinating! J
Have a great week and stay safe!
PS: My thanks to Istvan Tamas for letting me “borrow” some of what he sent out to the tenants of his properties earlier this week. Thanks Ish!
Director of Facilities Services