Do You Know the Safest Place to be During a Tornado?
First things first, as you're reading this, go ahead and plug your device in, so it can start charging. You don't want to lose power later and then have a dead battery.
Meteorologists can track the strongest parts of storms in real time, which is pretty amazing. Unfortunately, there's no fail safe to predicting exactly where a tornado is going to go. Buildings can be swept away in seconds, so it's very important to have a plan and stick to it. I know that I kind of feel more freaked out than usual, after last week's tornadoes in Tennessee. We've been given a heads up about the storms we could see this afternoon lasting through tonight. Now is the time to go over safety plans with your family.
When to Seek Shelter
If you hear the weather siren, you know that it's time to be in your safe space. Of course, sometimes they don't always work. You could be without power and have no idea what warnings are out there. According to the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma, you should get familiar with the sites and sounds of tornadoes.
- Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
- Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base -- tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
- Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
- Day or night - Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
- Night - Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
- Night - Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning -- especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.
For some reason, trailer parks can be hit the hardest. Here is a safety video, with specific information if you're in a mobile home:
If you are in a house with a basement, that is always the safest bet. Stay away from windows and doors. Hallways and closets under stairs may help protect you. Remember the drills in school? Practice getting down and protecting your head and neck.
What if You Are Outside or in a Car?
If you find yourself outside, try to find shelter. If there is no time, lie down flat and protect your head and neck with your arms. If you find yourself in traffic, the Storm Prediction center says, 'There is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car, just slightly less-dangerous ones. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado.'