Tornado Safety

Severe Weather Warning System

Each month, April through October, the City will test outdoor sirens at 11 a.m. on the first Wednesday of the month. The City will not sound the sirens on these days if the weather conditions do not allow. 

DID YOU KNOW sirens are an outdoor warning system, designed only to alert those who are outside, that something dangerous is approaching?

For alerts indoors, every home and business should have a NOAA All-Weather Radio. This type of radio is like a smoke detector for severe weather, and it can wake you up when a warning is issued for your area so you can take appropriate action.

Know the Warning Signs

Learning to recognize “tornado weather” can be a big step in tornado preparation. Tornadoes tend to develop on hot, humid, spring days between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., but they can occur at any time of the day or year. Awareness and preparation combine to give the best protection from tornadoes. Awareness can be as simple as keeping a radio or television on and tuned to a local channel to hear weather advisories, or as detailed as attending a weather spotter’s class sponsored by the local weather service. 

Knowing the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning can mean the difference between life and death.

  • A Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for severe weather to form.
  • A Tornado Warning means that radar or a tornado spotter has sighted a tornado.

Prepare Before a Tornado

In school children are taught both fire drills and tornado drills, at home you should do the same. 

  • First, determine where you will go for shelter. The place you choose for shelter should be at the lowest level of the house, near the center of the house. The room you choose should be away from doors and windows, but be large enough for everyone to get into easily and comfortably.
  • Prepare an emergency kit for your shelter. The kit should be kept in the shelter if possible or near the shelter if not. Each kit will be slightly different dependent on the household, but should include the following as a minimum: a portable, battery-operated radio to keep you informed about the weather conditions and further possible warnings; a flashlight or battery-operated lantern; candles or other flame-producing light sources should be avoided due to the danger of gas leaking if a tornado would strike near you; a heavy blanket to shield from flying debris.
  • Practice! Your tornado drill and kit is only complete if you practice it with the entire family. Practice it at different times of the day or night and with people in different parts of the house.

Safety During a Tornado

Everyone should have a basic knowledge of severe weather safety rules and have a severe weather plan in place. 

  • In Homes and Most Structures: A basement or other underground location is by far the best shelter from a tornado. If a basement is not available, move to a small, interior room or other interior location such as a hallway. Stay away from outside walls, doors and windows. Keep as many walls as you can between you and the wind outside.
  • In schools, hospitals, factories, shopping centers and other public places, move to designated shelter areas. Interior hallways on the lowest level are best. Stay away from windows and out of auditoriums, gymnasiums or structures with large free-span roofs.
  • In Vehicles: Do not try to outrun a tornado. A tornado does not have to slow down for traffic, stop signs or curves in the road. You must quickly assess your situation. If you have a clear path, and you can drive in a direction away from the tornado, then do so. If necessary, seek shelter in a nearby, substantial building.

    As a last resort, if you have no alternative, abandon your vehicle and hide in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head. Most deaths occur because of head injuries caused by flying debris. There have been conflicting opinions concerning highway underpasses and tornadoes.

    While an underpass can offer protection from rain and hail, it may not protect you from a strong tornado. The wind from the tornado will actually accelerate as it blows through the underpass likely sweeping everything away. The best thing to do if severe weather threatens is to not drive. Stay in a safe building until the storms pass.