A Tornado is a whirling cylindrical storm in the shape of a funnel, that is in contact with earths surface and the clouds above. The funnel is made up of visual condensation and enclosed with debris, dirt and dust at the base. Tornadoes have been seen and recorded all over the world, with the exception of continent, Antarctica. However, most tend to happen within the United States, more specifically “Tornado Alley.
Also known as cyclones, they can be thin, low wind speeds and last for only a few miles or can be massive, 300 + mph winds and travel for great distances. Just like Hurricanes, there is a scale at which their intensity is measured.
The Enhanced Fujita Scale
- EF 0: Winds of 65-85 MPH causing minor to no damage. Damage, if any, may consist of some disturbance to roofs, gutters, broken tree limbs and small trees up-rooted.
- EF 1: Winds of 86-110 MPH causing moderate damage. Damage consisting of mobile homes overturned or damaged majorly, possible broken windows, roof shingles severely damaged or even stripped.
- EF 2: Winds at speeds of 111-135 MPH causing considerable damage. Home foundations shifted, large trees up-rooted or broken in half, roofs lifted, and mobile homes demolished.
- EF 3: Winds speeds at 136-165 MPH causing severe damage. Strong founded houses damaged, large public buildings disturbed, cars thrown and lifted off the ground, trains and buses flipped, and trees stripped of their bark.
- EF 4: Wind speeds at 166-200 MPH causing extreme damage. Houses completely leveled, large items (such as cattle, tractors, etc) and cars picked up and thrown about, Small projectiles created.
- EF 5: Winds at speeds greater than 200 MPH with total destruction damage. Houses leveled and lifted off the foundation and swept away. Collapsing of large buildings, large missiles (such as cars, trains, etc) thrown miles away.
Knowing what kind of damage these cyclones can do, it is crucial to know what to do in case one strikes your area. Luckily, they can be predicted within a certain block of time. The tornado itself can not be detected but the type of storm which produces them can be monitored. Once a storm is sited they can broadcast a warning for the area giving a few moments to a few hours head start. In most areas where tornadoes occur, there are secondary shelters on peoples property to which a short term warning is okay. Below are some tips to help make sure you will be ready when it comes to dealing with a Tornado.
Shelter/ Evacuation Plan
If you live in a place that accommodates basements or detached storm cellars, make that, you and your families go to evacuation spot. If you do not live in a basement probable state be sure to know where and how to get to the strongest building in your city. For instance high schools, grocery stores, churches and other brick or cement buildings are the best option to withstand the coming cyclone. In most cases, police will make a broadcast on the news to inform the people of a safe shelter that the people can gather at. Be sure to practice this drive, knowing all the routes you can take (in case of traffic or panic) to arrive safely and before the storm hits.
Living in a rural area may mean that you happen to have a well or stream on your property. If so, you most likely will not need to stock up on water, due to the well or stream being filled with potable or at least non-contaminated water. However, if you do not have that source available the next best thing is to, of course, stock up one bottled water from the nearest grocery store. To avoid the last minute panic, it is a good idea to just buy a few bottles here and there as you go to the store to ensure that you have enough when the storm occurs.
Food/ Cooking Plan
Seeing as how tornadoes don’t generally last too long, as long as the severity is not a 4 or 5, you should be okay with just a few snacks or cans of food kept in the cellar. If you are in the states where you have to travel to the safest building, it would be a good idea to have a Tornado Kit containing some snacks and canned food. Although, traveling to a police designated safe place may mean they have set up food and water for all those who are staying there. You can check the standard protocol of your city’s emergency plans to see if they generally provide necessities for you. Like stated however, if they do not, it doesn’t hurt to have a kit with enough water and food for you and your family to last a few days.
The various severity, frequency, and timing all play factors in how prepared you should be. For instance, living in Florida, we dont see many tornadoes here so its less likely that we will have to be alert to these storms throughout the year. But for those living in Tornado Alley, you may have to have a more sustainable preparedness plan set up.