Preparing for Tornado Season

Winter is a good time to begin preparing for tornado season. Do you live and work in an area which has experienced tornadoes? If so, what’s your plan for alerting patrons that a tornado warning has been issued for your area? What are the safest places in your building? What’s your tornado safety plan for your home?

Unless you’ve been in a tornado, it’s hard to imagine its destructive powers. On May 13, 2000, my family and I sat in our Honda Civic at a local high school parking lot while an F1 tornado went over us. We had been out for ice cream and had no idea of the possibility of a tornado. In fact, we were parked in the parking lot because I wanted to get a good look at some spectacular storm cloud formations coming in from the southwest. After striking the high school, the tornado then took northeasterly track right over our house, resulting in several downed trees. An F1 tornado is quite low on the Fujita scale, however, the winds from the tornado, estimated at 80 to 100 mph, tore off roofing from the high school and sent metal barrels tumbling past our car. Did it sound like a train? Not this one. However, our car shook violently and visibility was reduced to almost nothing due to the intensity of the rain. Our girls, age 7 and 5 at the time, sat screaming in the back seat through the whole event, which probably lasted less than a minute. My wife and I, greatly concerned, kept assuring them that everything was going to be fine. Everything did turn out to be fine, and we all now have a much greater respect for tornadoes.

The map below is from data provided by the National Climatic Data Center.

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