A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Peak season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern states it is late spring through early summer. However, tornadoes can form any time of the year and occur in every state in the country.

  • Listen to a NOAA battery-operated weather radio for critical information from the National Weather Service.
  • Know your community’s warning system for severe weather.
  • Seek shelter in the lowest level of your house, preferably a basement or storm cellar, or a smaller inner room, inner hallway or closet.
  • Stay away from windows. Cover yourself with a blanket or jacket to protect yourself from flying debris or broken glass.
  • Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind, such as bicycles, lawn furniture, hanging plants and trash cans.
  • Prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
  • Practice tornado drills with your family members so everyone is prepared when a tornado is approaching.
  • Watch for tornado danger signs: dark, greenish clouds; wall clouds; clouds of debris; large hail; funnel clouds or roaring noise.

Download the Severe Weather Preparedness Checklist

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