Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornadoes

Posted on 4/25/2019 12:57:56 PM

2019 Severe Weather Awareness week for Pennsylvania is April 22–26. Plan ahead and stay weather aware for safe spring!

Our severe weather and weather safety topic for today is “Tornadoes and Tornado Safety.”

According to the National Weather Service, there were 31 reported tornadoes in Pennsylvania in 2018. They also reported there have been at least 13 confirmed tornadoes in Pennsylvania this month, which is a record.

What is a Tornado?

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornadoes are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees, and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. Tornadoes can occur at any time of day or night and at any time of the year

Prepare for a tornadoPrepare for a Tornado

Preparation is key to staying safe and minimizing impacts.

  • Be Weather-Ready: Check the forecast regularly to see if you’re at risk for tornadoes. Listen to local news or a NOAA weather radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings. 
  • Sign Up for Notifications: Know how your community sends warnings. Some communities have outdoor sirens. Others depend on media and smartphones to alert residents of severe storms capable of producing tornadoes.
  • Create a Communications Plan: Have a family plan that includes an emergency meeting place and related information. Pick a safe room in your home, such as a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. Check more ideas for your family plan.
  • Practice Your Plan: Conduct a family severe thunderstorm drill regularly so everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching. Make sure all members of your family know to go there when tornado warnings are issued. Don’t forget pets if time allows.
  • Prepare Your Home: Consider having your safe room reinforced. You can find plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website.
  • Help Your Neighbor: Encourage your loved ones to prepare for the possibility of tornadoes. Take CPR training so you can help if someone is hurt.

torando warning

What should you do during a Tornado?

Acting quickly is key to staying safe and minimizing impacts.

  • Stay Weather-Ready: Continue to listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay updated about tornado watches and warnings.
  • At Your House: If you are in a tornado warning, go to your basement, safe room, or an interior room away from windows. Don’t forget pets if time allows.
  • At Your Workplace or School: Follow your tornado drill and proceed to your tornado shelter location quickly and calmly. Stay away from windows, and do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums.
  • Outside: Seek shelter inside a sturdy building immediately if a tornado is approaching. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe.
  • In a vehicle: Being in a vehicle during a tornado is not safe. The best course of action is to drive to the closest shelter. If you are unable to make it to a safe shelter, either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low-lying area such as a ditch or ravine.

What should you do after a Tornado?

  • Stay Informed: Continue to listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay updated about tornado watches and warnings. Multiple rounds of thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes are possible during severe weather outbreaks.
  • Contact Your Family and Loved Ones: Let your family and close friends know that you’re okay so they can help spread the word—phone calls, text messages, or social media. 
  • Assess the Damage: After the threat for tornadoes has ended, check to see if your property has been damaged. When walking through storm damage, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes. Contact local authorities if you see power lines down. Stay out of damaged buildings. Be aware of insurance scammers if your property has been damaged.
  • Help Your Neighbor: If you come across people who are injured and you are properly trained, provide first aid to victims if needed until emergency response teams arrive.

This message is brought to you by the IUP Emergency Management Office.