What are the signs of a tornado?

Understanding and looking out for the signs of a tornado are critical in Oklahoma even if you do have a storm shelter, (there’s no point having a tornado shelter or safe room if you do not know when to use it).  Here’s some helpful advise from the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma to help you spot the signs of a tornado:

Weather forecasting science is not perfect and some tornadoes do occur without a tornado warning. There is no substitute for staying alert to the sky. Besides an obviously visible tornado, here are some things to look and listen for:

  • 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.

Our advise is if you see any of these signs, head straight to your safe place, ideally a well prepared storm shelter or safe room.

Tornado Kit Checklist

The next time a severe storm or tornado strikes, you may not have much time to act. Prepare now for such an emergency by having a tornado emergency kit for your family.

Whether it comes in the form of an earthquake, flood, tornado or fire, the key to survival is to be prepared, including having an emergency kit in place.  Here is a checklist of items to have ready in your storm shelter or safe room:

  • A supply of water (one gallon per person per day). Store water in sealed, unbreakable containers. Identify the storage date and replace every six months.
  • A supply of non-perishable packaged or canned food and a non-electric can opener.
  • A change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes.
  • Blankets or sleeping bags.
  • A first aid kit and prescription medications.
  • An extra pair of glasses.
  • A battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
  • Credit cards and cash.
  • An extra set of car keys.
  • A list of family physicians.
  • A list of phone numbers for relatives, neighbors, your schools, and utility companies, and photos and descriptions of your family should you be separated.
  • A list of important family information; the style and serial number of medical devices such as pacemakers.
  • Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members.
  • Don’t forget your pets. Canned pet food and water, sturdy leashes, harnesses or carriers, current photos of the pets and a litter box with litter.

A five-day supply of non-perishable food, bottled water and any prescription medications is recommended for your storm shelter/safe room.

On its website, Ready.gov, the Federal Emergency Management Agency says to obtain information after a disaster by watching TV, listening to the radio or checking the Internet often for information or official instruction as it becomes available.