It is Wednesday and during Severe Weather Awareness Week that means the topic is tornado safety. While we think of the fall and spring as peak periods of severe weather activity, tornadoes can happen year-round here in Alabama. Tornadoes in this state can range from smaller EF-1 tornadoes to devastating EF-5 type tornadoes. It is important to remember that even the smallest tornado can be life threatening.
One of the main dangers with these violent columns of rotating air is the threat of flying debris. I’ve seen numerous pictures after tornado events and I’m always amazed by the power of nature. After the December 16th, 2000 tornado, I viewed a home that was blown clean off of its foundation and forced in a lateral direction, acting like a plow, and forcing a riding lawnmower underground. In the spring of 2007, after a smaller tornado impacted the Windham Springs community in northeast Tuscaloosa County, a credit card was found stuck in a refrigerator. From the large Oak Grove tornado to the Palm Sunday outbreak, there are so many stories regarding the power of tornadoes and how they’ve impacted our community. Remember that it is not a question of will a tornado strike, it’s a question of when will a tornado strike.
I’ve included some safety tips regarding what to do in the event of a tornado emergency. One key is to pay close attention to forecasts leading up to severe weather events so you will to know when the threat will occur.
You want to make sure you’re near a safe location in the event a tornado threatens. If you live in a mobile home or don’t have a sturdy shelter, plan a head and make sure you have somewhere to go…call a friend, family member, or stay with a neighbor.
Pay close attention to crawls and severe weather announcements on the television and have an All Hazards NOAA Weather Radio on hand. Keep fresh batteries in your NOAA Weather Radio and make sure those radios with SAME technology are properly programmed. If or when you fall asleep, NOAA Weather Radio will alert you during the overnight hours with a tone.
If you wake up in the middle of the night as a tornado warning is being issued for your area, head for the basement or storm shelter. If not available, second option is a closet in the central portion of your home or a bathroom. Crouch down in the closet or bathtub and put a pillow over your head or use a heavy blanket. Avoid windows and cases or displays in your home that contain glass or anything that can serve as flying debris. Cars are not a safe alternative! When it comes to the largest tornadoes, the only real safe spot is below ground. That is why it is important to plan ahead and have a place to go in the event of a major tornado.
Fox 6 Meteorologist