Tornadoes are one of nature’s most destructive and violent weather events. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground. The whirling wind of a tornado can reach wind speeds of 300 mph. Most tornadoes move from Southwest to Northeast but can move in any direction. They may strike quickly with little warning, and in a matter of seconds can cause devastation. Because wind is not visible, you cannot always see a tornado. Every year, around 60 people are killed by tornadoes, typically from flying debris.
Kentucky lies in Hoosier Alley and averages 21 tornado events per year. Peak tornado season for Kentucky is from April through June, but tornadoes have struck in every month of the calendar year.
- Dark, often greenish sky
- Large hail
- A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
- Loud roaring sound, like a freight train
- Funnel cloud
Know the Terms:
- Severe Thunderstorm Watch – severe thunderstorms are possible in your area
- Severe Thunderstorm Warning – severe thunderstorms are occurring in your area
- Tornado Watch – tornadoes are possible in your area
- Tornado Warning – a tornado has been sighted or spotted by weather radar
- Preparedness increases our ability to survive disaster events.
- Develop a family disaster plan and discuss the plan.
- If a tornado watch is issued, remain alert, monitor weather, and be prepared to execute disaster plan.
- If your area is under tornado warning, you should seek safe shelter immediately.
- Avoid windows.
- Get as low as possible. A basement or storm shelter is the safest place to be.
- If your home does not have a basement, seek a small interior windowless room, like a closet or interior hallway. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
- Get under a sturdy table and/or cover your head and neck with your arms and cover your body as best as you can with blankets, pillows, mattress, or heavy clothing.
- Do not open windows.
- Do not stay in a mobile home during a tornado.
- If you are in a long-span building (shopping malls, theaters, gymnasiums, airports), stay away from windows, and seek to get to the lowest level. If there is no time to get to a lower level, try to get under a door-frame, table, desk if possible. Remember to protect your head and neck.
- The worst place to be in a tornado is in a vehicle. Always get out of the vehicle and seek the nearest sturdy shelter. Do not try to flee from a tornado in your car, and never get under your vehicle.
- If you are outdoors, try to get to a sturdy structure for shelter. If you are unable to reach a safe place to shelter, lie down in a gully, ditch or low spot on the ground. Protect your head and neck with your arms. Avoid areas with trees. Never shelter under or near vehicles. Do not shelter under overpasses or bridges. Find something to hang onto. Be aware that lightning, flooding, and hail can accompany tornadoes.
- If you are trapped, do not panic. Seek to attract attention to your location with loud noises or by calling for help on your cell phone.
“A sensible person sees danger and takes cover, but the inexperienced keep going and are punished.” (Proverbs 22:3)