What to Look for When a Tornado is Approaching

Survive a Tornado tips from Ground Zero SheltersWe recently learned how tornados are formed, but all that knowledge is useless unless you know what to look for. So let’s discuss how to spot a tornado. 

Sign #1 - Severe thunderstorm tornados are usually accompanied by heavy rain, hail and lightning.

Sign #2 - Rotating wall clouds or funnel clouds originate from the lowering down of the meso-cyclone, almost a certain sign that a tornado is developing or approaching.

Sign #3 - Green skies. In the middle of a thunderstorm, if you see that the dark sky is turning green, it could be a sign of tornado formation. Green-tinted storm clouds are the result of dense moisture in the atmosphere reflecting green light.

Sign #4 - A tornado watch is issued. This happens when conditions are just right for a tornado to form. Learn what to do when a tornado watch is issued

Sign #5 - Flying debris in the air. A tornado may pick up debris on its way to your neighborhood.

Sign #6 – There is a calm period after heavy rain and / or hail. 

There are numerous signs, and you may not see all of them, but the best bet is that you will encounter a few of them before coming in contact with a tornado. There are also several safety rules that you should follow. Below are the do’s, don’ts and the never’s of tornado safety survival.


The Do’s of Tornado Safety Survival:

  • Go to the basement or a customized storm shelter. If you don’t have any of these, you can seek shelter in a small interior ground floor room like a bathroom, closet or hallway.
  • Stay away from windows, outside walls and doors.
  • If possible, find shelter in another building if you are in a gymnasium, church or auditorium. If you are in one of these buildings and cannot leave, take cover under a sturdy structure such as a table or desk.
  • Get as close to the ground as possible, protect your head and watch for flying debris.

The Don'ts of Tornado Safety Survival:

  • Take shelter under a bridge or overpass
  • Remain in a vehicle or mobile home
  • Attempt to “stabilize pressure” by opening windows
  • Dive for the southwest corner of your basement

The Never’s of Tornado Safety Survival:

  • Attempt to outrun a tornado in a vehicle
  • Continue to walk or drive, assuming the tornado won’t strike near you
  • Take open shelter close to a hill or lake because “tornados don't hit lakes”
  • Attempt to photograph an oncoming tornado
  • Chase tornados

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