Tornado Safety

Some Basic Facts

1,200 tornados cause about 70 deaths and 1,500 injuries annually. They are capable of wind speeds up to 250 MPH and can be up to a mile wide staying on the ground for up to 50 miles. They are most likely to form in late spring to early summer between the hours of 3 PM to 9 PM, however can happen at anytime.Tornado Warning

What’s the Difference?

What is a Tornado Watch?
A tornado watch defines an area shaped like a parallelogram, where tornadoes and other kinds of severe weather are possible in the next several hours. It does not mean tornadoes are imminent, BUT you need to be alert, and be prepared to go to safe shelter if tornadoes do happen or a warning is issued. This is the time to turn on local TV or radio, make sure you have ready access to safe shelter, and make your family aware of the potential for tornadoes in the area, including calling kids in from playing outdoors.

What is a Tornado Warning?
A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted, or that Doppler radar indicates a thunderstorm circulation which can spawn a tornado. When a tornado warning is issued for El Paso County, take immediate safety precautions.

What Should I Do?

In a home or building, move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement.
If an underground shelter is not available, move to a small interior room such as bathrooms or hallways on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
Make sure everyone in your family is accounted for, hold on to small children.
Stay away from windows.
Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; instead, leave it immediately for safe shelter.
If caught outside or in a vehicle, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.
Be aware of flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
If time allows, bring your “Emergency Supplies Kit” with you to your safe location, this kit should have necessary items and food to last your family up to 3 days.
Stay calm, depending on the size of the tornado and amount of damage caused, it may take rescue crews hours or days to get to you.

Tornado Myths and Truths

MYTH: Areas near lakes, rivers, and mountains are safe from tornadoes.
TRUTH: No place is safe from tornadoes. A tornado near Yellowstone National Park left a path of destruction up and down a 10,000 foot mountain.

MYTH: The low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to “explode” as the tornado passes overhead.
TRUTH: Violent winds and debris slamming into buildings cause most structural damage.

MYTH: Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
TRUTH: Leave the windows alone. The most important action is to immediately go to a safe shelter.

MYTH: If you are driving and a tornado is sighted, you should turn and drive at right angles to the storm.
TRUTH: The best thing to do is to seek the best available shelter. Many people are injured or killed when remaining in their vehicles.

MYTH: People caught in the open should seek shelter under highway overpasses.
TRUTH: Take shelter in a sturdy reinforced building if at all possible. Overpasses, ditches, and culverts may provide limited protection from a tornado, but your risk will be greatly reduced by moving inside a strong building.