Tornadoes are violent forces of nature that can destroy homes and communities in a matter of moments. These storms are capable of uprooting large trees, destroying strong and durable structures, and dangerously hurling objects through the air.
While they are most common in the Great Plains of the United States, tornadoes have occurred in every US state. Since these devastating storms can occur in diverse places, it is very important that everyone knows how to prepare themselves and their home for potential storms during tornado season.
Understanding the Difference between a Watch and a Warning
Most of us have watched our local news station and have heard a meteorologist report on a tornado watch or warning in our area, but there are many people who do not know the difference between the two.
A tornado watch means that it is possible for a storm to occur in or around the area you are in. This means you should begin to check for supplies and prepare yourself to follow through with your family’s emergency plans. A tornado warning means that an actual tornado touched down in your area and you need to seek immediate shelter as soon as possible until the warning has passed.
Years ago, tornadoes would strike with little, if any, warning. That is because we did not have the technology back then that we do today. Thanks to the advancements in weather predictions and storm tracking, experts are able to give us an effective tornado warning system that provides us with enough time to get to a safe place or evacuate an area before the storm has time to hit. And while these improvements are not able to end tornadoes altogether, they have definitely helped to save thousands of people from potential injury or death.
Tornado Prep Then and Now
Over time, the recommended steps that one should take in regards to tornado preparedness have varied. This information can depend on several different factors such as the location, or the amount of time that residents of an area had before a tornado would to touch down. In many rural areas across the United States, homeowners may have an external building such as a storm cellar that they can go to when a storm is on the horizon. Residents of urban areas typically do not have this advantage and usually will need rescuing from their home if a tornado were to strike.
Prior to 2011, there were no building codes or regulations in effect for tornado shelters in Oklahoma. After a major storm occurred in Joplin, hurricane ties or similar objects were required to be used on all types of tornado shelters in the area. Similar measures have been taken in the state of Florida, where hurricanes are prone to destroy buildings and take many lives.
Tornado drills are an important factor when it comes to tornado preparedness as they help to increase the chances of everyone getting to safety in the event of a real storm. In many parts of the US, schools are now required to conduct these drills as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week. Students who live in the states of Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin all take part in annual tornado drills in order to prepare for the upcoming tornado season.