When it comes to tornadoes, no news is good news

For the first time ever, we are days away from this becoming the first year in the modern record with no violent tornadoes touching down in the United States.That means no tornadoes were rated EF4 or EF5 this year. It also means the 10 tornado deaths in 2018 are competing for the record low.

Why the downward trend?

The causes for the lack of violent tornadoes in 2018 are many. One key factor, however, is that high pressure tended to be more dominant than normal throughout peak tornado season in the spring.

Despite the downward trend in annual tornado numbers, studies continue to find that more tornadoes are happening on fewer days. With that in mind, it is possible this downward trend won’t last much longer.

Be prepared anyway

So what to do? Be prepared anyway. Here's how:

  • Know your area’s tornado risk. In the U.S., the Midwest and the Southeast have a greater risk for tornadoes.
  • Know the signs of a tornado, including a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud; an approaching cloud of debris; or a loud roar—similar to a freight train. Find out more.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system.
  • Pay attention to weather reports.
  • Identify and practice going to a safe shelter in the event of high winds, such as a safe room built using FEMA criteria or a storm shelter built to ICC 500 standards. The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level of a sturdy building. Find out more about whether an above ground or below ground shelter is best for you.
  • Prepare yourself and your shelter. Be tornado ready.
  [Read more]

Can you believe your eyes about how tornadoes form?

Tornadoes seem to be growing more powerful. Scientists are learning more about their power, as well as how they form, through the latest scientific studies. And according to one of the latest theories, your eyes may be deceiving you.Tornadoes don't really drop down from the clouds, as our eyes tell us. The opposite is true, according to a new study presented at the American Geophysical Union conference.

Study shows many tornadoes start near the ground

The research team in that study analyzed four tornadoes, finding that none of the tornadoes formed from the top down. In some cases, clear evidence showed that the rotation was present near the ground first.Other tornadoes indicated that the rotation took place simultaneously through the whole column.However, this theory is not new. But what's different now is that the scientists' conclusion is supported by high resolution rapid scan data.

Hard to swallow

Researchers admit that not all tornadoes form from the ground up, but they say many do. And that is difficult to swallow when people who are watching a funnel cloud swear they see something different happening.  [Read more]

Preparing for a Tornado: Know the Risks and the Signs

Whether you live in a high-risk tornado zone or not, it is essential that you know the risks and the signs of a tornado in order to be prepared. Follow this advice from ready.gov:
  • Know your area’s tornado risk. In the U.S., the Midwest and the Southeast have a greater risk for tornadoes.
  • Know the signs of a tornado, including a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud; an approaching cloud of debris; or a loud roar—similar to a freight train. Find out more.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts. If your community has sirens, then become familiar with the warning tone.
  • Pay attention to weather reports. Meteorologists can predict when conditions might be right for a tornado.
  • Identify and practice going to a safe shelter in the event of high winds, such as a safe room built using FEMA criteria or a storm shelter built to ICC 500 standards. The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level of a sturdy building. Find out more about whether an above ground or below ground shelter is best for you.
[Read more]
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Fall tornado season hits from Plains into Southeast

 callLast weekend, a storm system hit the Plains and the Southeast, producing more than two dozen tornadoes that left destruction behind, injuring at least 30 and killing one. The storms blew through towns in Georgia, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Missouri.

Worse than predicted

Although early morning warnings from the Storm Prediction Center predicted a "slight" risk of severe weather, at least 26 confirmed tornadoes hit Illinois alone, the most to hit the state during a single December day on record.Andy Goodall, Taylorville, Ill., assistant fire chief,  said the tornado took a path almost directly through the town, tearing roofs off of homes, including his own.People were trapped inside 12 or 15 homes, he said in an interview with the Breeze Courier on Saturday night.

Plan ahead

Such a fate can be avoided by planning ahead and installing a Survive-a-Storm shelter. First, do your research. Investigate whether an above ground or below ground shelter is best for your needs.Then, practice and prepare for a storm. Watch for dangerous weather signs. Finally, take shelter in the right place.    [Read more]

Oregon on alert as funnel clouds could form

Just when the weather seems safe, everything can change. Take today, for example.This morning, the National Weather Service in Portland said funnel clouds could form in Oregon, when stormy conditions straddled the Interstate 5 corridor, stretching from south of Cottage Grove all the way north of Kelso, Wash.The NWS predicted showers with scattered thunderstorms spreading across southwest Washington and northwest Oregon. Heavy downpours and brief gusty winds were part of the forecast.And that kind of weather "is a recipe for twisters," forecasters said."We are monitoring the potential for funnel clouds this afternoon as this weather pattern has produced funnel clouds in the past," they said. "Any funnel cloud could touch down as a brief tornado. If you see a funnel cloud, move indoors to safety, then contact local law enforcement or the National Weather Service in Portland."

It's the season

We are in the midst of the fall tornado season.  Every year, in the months of November and December, fall tornado season catches more people off-guard than those in the early spring months.  This happens mostly because so many people are unaware that fall tornado season actually exists. In fact, even though we have what is called ‘tornado seasons’, the truth is, tornadoes can actually happen wherever and whenever.

What to do

What to do? Practice and prepare for a storm. Choose the right storm shelter for you and your family. Watch for dangerous weather signs. Take shelter in the right place. [Read more]

Keeping Kids Busy in the Shelter

You were wise. You planned ahead. You purchased a storm shelter. You outfitted it with the necessities. But how do you keep the kids busy while they are waiting out the storm?If you want to keep the kiddos calm and distracted when your family has to take shelter, make sure you have a few supplies on hand. You can store these items in your shelter or tuck them in a handy backpack that you quickly grab on your way out the door.

What to store or pack for fun

  • A book or two, either hard copy or e-book. Taking turns reading aloud can help pass the time and keep your minds on more pleasant topics.
  • Magnetic blocks. These can be shapes, objects, letters, or words. Arrange and rearrange them on the inside walls of your storm shelter as you wait out the storm. Good for all ages.
  • A deck of cards. This can keep you busy for hours and provide a variety of games.
  • Coloring books and crayons, colored pencils, or markers. With coloring so popular these days, this will occupy both children and adults.
  • Board games. Choose one or two that have minimal pieces and are easy to set up.
  • Video games. Bring extra batteries.
  • DVD player. Distract yourselves with some film favorites.
  [Read more]