2015 was a particularly busy year for tornado activity in the United States. In fact -- with 1,285 reports and 1,177 confirmed -- it was the busiest of the last 4 years. While peak season is normally March to June, a particularly strong El Nino contributed to significant tornadic activity later in the year; there were 93 tornado reports in the month of December alone! This year has seen lower tornado frequency, as the lingering effects of El Nino have driven storm tracks farther south than normal, preventing the formation of supercells that can spawn tornadoes. This is not to say that significant outbreaks of large storms are not possible in the next few months; they are just not as likely. There is about a 60% chance at this point in the year that there will be fewer tornadoes in 2016 overall than the yearly average.
Staying Safe During a Tornado
You don’t have to live in Tornado Alley or Dixie Alley to experience a tornado; they pose a danger in all 50 states. The most important thing when a tornado is imminent is to have an established plan in place. Identify the safest place to wait out the storm, monitor the radio or TV in bad weather, and obey the warnings.
Whether you are at home or away, it is important to know the safest area to take shelter. If your home does not have a dedicated storm shelter, go to the basement and wait out the situation under the staircase or a sturdy table, or lie down flat on the floor, away from any windows. If your home has no basement, seek shelter in an interior room on the lowest level of the dwelling. If you go into a bathroom, lie down in the bathtub and cover your head with your hands to prevent debris from contact with your eyes and face. Stay away from all windows, and do not open windows in an effort to equalize the pressure in the house; this has been proven to have no benefit. It allows wind, rain, & debris to enter the house unnecessarily.
If you are in a mobile home when a tornado warning occurs, don’t stay there! If your area has a shelter, go there immediately. If no shelter is available, head to the nearest large building, such as a store or library, and take shelter there on the lowest level and away from windows, preferably in an interior room.
If you are in your car during a warning and cannot get indoors, stay in your car with your head below window level, with a blanket over your head if possible for protection from debris. If there is a ditch nearby, you can lie in it with hands over head. Be advised, though, that this method is not preferred since rain often accompanies tornadoes, and ditches can flood without warning.
Listen to a weather radio, television or for sirens in your area when the weather is bad. A tornado watch means that the climate is favorable for the formation of a tornado. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted and it is time to take shelter immediately. A tornado can devastate a neighborhood in minutes, and there is no time to lose once a warning has been issued.
More information about tornado safety can be found at www.ready.gov and www.redcross.org. If you would like a more in-depth disaster plan, visit www.gameplanpreppers.com; we would love to tailor a custom plan for you!