Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms.
Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities
and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a
rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to
the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour.
Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long.
Every state is at some risk from this hazard.
Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain
or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes
develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible.
Level Of Damage
40 - 72 MPH
|Chimneys damaged; branches broken off trees; shallow-rooted
trees uprooted; sign boards damaged.
73 - 112 MPH
|Roof surfaces peeled off; mobile homes pushed off foundations or
overturned; moving autos pushed off roads.
113 - 157 MPH
|Roofs torn off frame houses; mobile homes demolished; box cars
pushed over; large trees snapped or uprooted; light-object
158 - 206 MPH
|Roofs and some walls torn off well-constructed houses; trains
overturned; most trees in forest uprooted; heavy cars lifted off the
ground and thrown.
207 - 260 MPH
|Well-constructed houses leveled; structures with weak
foundations relocated; cars thrown and large projectiles generated.
261 - 318 MPH
|Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried
considerable distance to disintegrate; automobile-sized projectiles
hurtle through the air in excess of 100 yards; trees debarked; other
incredible phenomena expected.
Before a Tornado
Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and
the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location
of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur
near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see
clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.
The following are facts about tornados:
They may strike quickly, with little or no
They may appear nearly transparent until dust
and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
The average tornado moves Southwest to
Northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
The average forward speed of a tornado is 30
MPH, but may vary from stationary to 70 MPH.
Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and
hurricanes as they move onto land.
Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.
Tornadoes are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains
during spring and summer months.
Peak tornado season in the southern states is
March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through
Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3
p.m. and 9 p.m., but can occur at any time.
Types of Hazards
Tornado Safety Procedures
Flood Safety Procedures
Wildfire Safety Procedures
Terrorism Safety Procedures
Managing Stress After a Disaster
Children and Disasters
Stress as a First Responder
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