03 May, 2011

Idiot's Guide to Tornadoes

Oh, yes.

It never really occurred to me before that there are people out there who have absolutely no idea what to do during a severe thunderstorm/tornado. A few weeks ago, I saw several people posting how scared they were and when they should hide, etc. I figured I should share all of my severe weather knowledge with the rest of the milspouse community. You never know when you'll end up PCSing to the South or Tornado Alley.

Tornado Watch: Means that tornadoes could happen, and just be aware of your surroundings.

Tornado Warning: Means that tornadoes are very likely. They've probably seen rotation in the storm, or they suspect that it will begin to rotate. You don't have to take cover yet, but don't leave your house. {That's my opinion anyway.}

❊ The main rule during severe weather is stay glued to the news. Whether you watch the news or listen to your radio, or even catch the updates via Facebook or Twitter, just stay informed.

Listen for the sirens. If you hear the sirens go off, it's a good idea to take cover. Make sure you can hear the TV/radio/see your computer from wherever you are in your house so that you know where the storm/tornado/funnel is and when it could hit your area.

Hiding places: If you have a basement (or outdoor cellar), this is the best place to go. Being underground will completely protect you from a tornado. If you don't have a basement, find the room/closet in the center of your house. DO NOT take cover in a room with outside walls. The best places are bathrooms or closets. If all of your rooms have an outside wall, the hallway will do. Just be sure to stay away from any windows. Windows = bad. (in the computer world too ;-))

If you live in an apartment complex on the second floor, I suggest you get to know your neighbors. You are not safe on the second (or any higher) floor. Once you're on the bottom floor, all the same rules as above apply.

The sky. If you happen to be out when things start to get rough, here are some really big warning signs.

This, my friends is what a wall cloud looks like. If the wall cloud begins to rotate, it can form a funnel which can form a tornado. Not all wall clouds rotate, and not all funnels drop into a tornado. However, it is best to recognize these before they get dangerous.

This is a more pronounced wall cloud. They all look sort of different, so I wanted to show more than one picture.

Ok, this is still a wall cloud (taken from the same area as the first), but can you see how it's slightly more curved? This is because it's rotating, trying to form a funnel. 

This is a funnel. 

As is this.

If you see this, be prepared to run and hide. Chances are that by this point, they have already sounded the sirens. Like I said before, it's always a good idea to hide when you hear them. Though I will admit that I would still probably be standing on the porch. =P 

If you see a tail (like the one above) coming out of a funnel, you best be runnin'. Even this girl from Tornado Alley would be high-tailing it to a hiding place. Actually, I have nightmares about being outside/in public/away from home when tornadoes touch down. This is probably why I don't leave the house if there's a tornado warning.

Tornadoes are dangerous. (Duh.) They can drop at any moment, regardless of what Mr. Weatherman says. My advice to those who are non-residents of Tornado Alley is this:

If you don't have to leave the house during severe weather, don't. 

If you do, have the news/weather on in your car. In my hometown, there was always the one radio station that would track severe weather. Find it and stay tuned. If, God forbid, you are in your car near a tornado, get out of your car and hide in a [preferably deep] ditch. Or bang on someone's front door and beg them to let you inside. Do NOT stay in your car! And do NOT try to outrun a tornado. You won't win.

Thus ends my tutorial on severe weather. Fellow Tornado Alleyians, feel free to add any of your own advice! =)

Oh, speaking of severe weather, Hawaii had a bit of its own this evening. It started storming (which is basically a miracle) and we got some water spouts!! I didn't see them, but I did steal this photo. =)

So. Cool!! And of course I don't live near where they happened/the beach. Le sigh. At least I got some good thunder and lightning out of it. 

Hope your week is off to a good start!! 


Mr. Superman & Mrs. S. said...

Scary!! Great photos though :)

Skinnie Piggie said...

Hahaha... this is a great tutorial!

Regarding the storm... holy cow we were in Waikiki and I was so happy we chose to drive the SUV & not the car, we ended up driving through a mile of 1.5ft deep water flooding the road- scary! The guy in the Camaro next to us was pissed (as I'd be if water were coming in thru my doors).

New Girl on Post said...

Sometimes I forget that people that didn't grow up in Tornado Alley don't know these things. I think you pretty much covered everything. I don't have anything to add. Except I miss Oklahoma storms!

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for sharing this! I live in PA, and we've only had tornado watches or warnings a handful of times, so it's good to know!

JG said...

Well, we've always had a more cavalier attitude about tornadoes....until you can see it coming, don't panic. And then when you do, sit outside and watch, till you really have to go inside.

Yeah, I'm not saying that's good advice. But that's how we roll. :)

Jessica said...

great tutorial ;)

being from the tornado alley myself it takes a lot to get me panicked over a tornado. we have a basement and we are prepared, but the deadly tornadoes that ravaged my state (Alabama) last week had me scared.

great advice for those who are not familiar with tornadoes ;)

Andrea said...

I LOVE storms and those pictures are great! Here in Wisco if they post a warning it means 100% (usually) that they spotted a tornado or there is def. rotation on the radar. I don't live in a good spot to hang out outside and watch one come in..o i wish i did!...so as soon as a warning goes out, the sirens go on, and we head to the basement :)