Disaster Survival

How Do I Know If There Is A Tornado In My Area: Things To Be Aware Of

Have you experienced tornados in your community? The question is, how do I know if there is a tornado in my area? 

Tornado is one of the delicate phenomena from nature. A violent rotating air where it can destroy a lot of houses, trees, and other infrastructure. This phenomenon could surely cause harm to humans and at the same time to animals.

If you are living in a place where the tornado is common whenever the weather is not good, then you might have an idea how would it start. But, the fact is sometimes tornadoes are unpredictable, unlike typhoons where people can be easily aware of where and when it will impact an area.

You need to know about this weather disaster for you to be ready in any circumstances. In this article we will discuss the signs of a tornado and what you can do to prepare for it.

Why Does Tornado Occur? 

How tornadoes form
How tornadoes form UCAR center of science

Tornadoes occur due to the changes in wind and air pressure over a small area. This is usually caused by a weather system such as a storm system or a general low pressure zone that lingers over an area. These atmospheric weather systems cause a horizontal rotation of the air where it will inadvertently form a funnel of rotating air.

This funnel of rotating air is pretty fast and will cause a suction effect on the ground. Because of the wind speed and the suction effect, tornadoes are pretty dangerous and will cause damage to infrastructure that hasn’t been hardened against tornado damage.

Where Does Tornado Occur?

Tornado climatology - Wikipedia

Tornadoes form in mid-latitude areas where the air is quite warm and the atmosphere is conducive for the formation of a convective thunderstorm. If you live in the US, then most of you will be in an area where it’s possible for a tornado to suddenly form.

However, there are several areas where it’s more common for tornadoes to form. Most of the tornadoes happening in the United States is located west of the Appalachian mountains and to the east of the Rocky mountains. Areas most susceptible to tornado formation is the United Sates southern plains and also Florida. This includes the infamous tornado alley where most of the US based tornadoes occur.

Common Types Of Tornado You Should Know 

In general, there are 3 types of tornado that you should be aware of. The three types of tornado are cone, rope, and wedge tornado.

Cone Tornado

This is the most common tornado everyone could picture out. The shape of this tornado resembles a cone or a funnel where the top is larger than the base. However, don’t be fooled, this tornado has a very high wind speed, and this is the reason why cone tornadoes may cause a lot of destruction to the surrounding regions.

Rope Tornado 

This is known as being the most slender type of tornado, true to it’s name rope tornadoes resemble a rope. This tornado is quite common and does not have a large destructive force. There are a lot of people who encounter this type of tornado as it can occur in every part of the world. 

Wedge Tornado

One of the most destructive types of tornado. This evolution of the cone tornado is both wide and tall at the same time. If a wedge tornado occurs, you would see the destructions trail for miles. So, whenever you encounter this type of tornado you need to go to the safest place to prevent any worst scenario. 

Signs You Should Be Aware To Know If There Will Be A Tornado

Signs a tornado is coming


This is one of the most common signs you should be aware of. When a tornado is approaching the area, loud sounds of thunderstorm will suddenly appear. Thunderstorms like their name, are literally storms of multiple thunders booming continuously.

Usually, thunderstorm sounds are not continuous, except when it’s part of a massive storm. However, when a large storm is about to birth a tornado, the thunderstorm sounds will be especially loud and continuous.

When this happens, it’s better for you to immediately seek shelter in a basement or in a reinforced house. Being out in the open during a tornado or even a thunderstorm is ill advised.

Funnel Shape in the Sky

A funnel is a tool you’re likely to see in the kitchen, if you’ve already used this then you should be very familiar with this sign. Before the tornado, you will usually see a cone or funnel shaped rotating mass of air in the sky. This signals that a tornado is beginning to form.

When you already see the shape of the clouds is a funnel, then you need to evacuate for the safest place. You need to be quick when this happens because a tornado will surely occur. 

Heavy Cloud Cover

You should know that tornadoes can also occur during night time. Because of that, it might be hard for you to know if it will occur in your area if you can’t see the funnel.

One of the best ways to estimate that a tornado will form besides listening for the thunderstorm sounds is to see the cloud cover. If the sky is covered with thick clouds, it means that a thunderstorm and potentially a tornado will occur in that area.

So, whenever this happens you need to be prepared! You must take safety precautionary measures. Heavy cloud cover combined with thunderstorms is surely an indication that there will be an occurrence of a tornado in the area. 

Falling Debris

Falling debris that has been sucked by the tornado is a sure sign that a tornado is near. If this happens, you need to move fast and barricade yourself inside your house or if you have one, inside your reinforced basement. It’s safer to be indoors than outdoors, especially if you can already see the tornado on the horizon.

Tips On How To Prepare For a Tornado

Tips on how to handle a tornado

Know the signs of a tornado 

There are a lot of warning signs when a tornado is coming to your area. You should know the signs of a tornado,  through this you will be aware of what are the things you need to do next.

There are a lot of warning from the environment before this phenomenon would occur. Most of the time, you can see that the colors of the clouds and the sky are different. If it gets darker with thick clouds, then you can be sure a tornado is coming.

Another sign you can hear is a loud thunderstorm from above coupled with fast winds coming from everywhere. The speed of the wind and strength are also the things you should consider if there will be a tornado. In general, if the signs mentioned above is present, you need to bug out quickly.

Always have your emergency kit

In whatever delicate situation you need to be ready all the time. You need to make sure that you have an emergency kit wherein you can easily pack and carry around if the circumstances change. A tornado is sometimes unpredictable, hence, it may have a longer effect on the people. The worst scenario of a tornado is it can cause fatality to humans and animals at the same time. 

When things like this happen, you need to prepare things including your emergency kit. You need to make sure that in your emergency kit, you have a flashlight, water, medicines, band-aid, alcohol, food, and other first-aid things. This is very beneficial along the way especially when a tornado hits your area. Always consider the fact that to have this is another way of preventing too many effects from this situation.

Always store your emergency kit in easy to access locations. This helps reduce your response time and also improves your survival chance.

You need to have a safe room in your house

Most of the American people have their safe room in their house. Knowing the fact that one of the places in the world that always have news with regards to a tornado is in the United States. So, to prevent the destructive effects of this disaster, people adapt by creating a safe place at home.

Most of them secure themselves in a no window type of room, where the wind can’t destroy the windows which are the weakest part of the house.

On the other hand, some people choose to have an underground room at home such as a basement or an underground storage. this will help them to have the safest place as they are below the area where tornadoes can damage.

If you live in an area where tornadoes frequently form, it’s a good idea for you to start thinking of building a safe room or a reinforced basement.

Always have an emergency kit in your car

You can’t predict when will be the time when the tornado hit your area, so it is better to prepare to prevent things from getting worst. What you need to do is prepare not just one emergency kit but two or three. You need to have this at home and at the same time in your car.

Through this, you are able to be ready whenever there are emergencies not just because of tornados but other circumstances on the streets. 

The emergency kit you have at home is the same as the emergency kit you have in your car. You can choose as well to put emergency radio, and power bank. These are the essential things you need to have, whistle, flashlight, water, first aid medicine, and many more. 

Do you have one of these in your car? Start doing this so you can be prepared for all situations!

Always check your house insurance

This is considered also as one of the safety precautions in various circumstances not only for tornadoes. After the tornado hits your area, you are not sure what debris it can take from you. Also, how much it would cost the damage this can do to your property such as your house and even to your car.

What you need to be aware of is your house insurance also your car insurance. You need to check whether if it’s active or not. When you already know about this thing, then you already know how to cope with the situation if there will be damage to your property.

If you don’t have house insurance, then it’s time to get one for your safety and for your family as well. You don’t want to be broke due to having to renovate your house without an insurance.

Invest in Solar Equipment and Energy Storage

Having electricity is crucial during any type of disaster, especially one where the electric grid will most likely be damaged. Because of that, it’s recommended that you have rechargeable equipment and also batteries for storing electricity.

This will enable you to keep functioning normally even during severe tornadoes that will cut power lines and communication lines.

Rechargeable equipment is great but the thing is you cannot guarantee you can have always a generator or the electricity to charge your things. You need to invest in some of the essential solar emergency equipment, as it helps you a lot. This is also considered as one of the safety precautions you can do for your family. 

A solar panel can light a bulb when there is no electricity. Other than that this could help you to live comfortably and you have the opportunity to use clean energy. Also, you can help yourself to be more practical and you won’t damage the environment as it is an eco-friendly kind of energy. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Here are several frequently asked questions regarding tornadoes and how to survive a tornado. See if your question has been answered!

Q: What are the fun facts about a tornado?

A: I don’t know about fun but here are the five facts you should know about this disaster, the first one is a tornado is made from the air, another is a tornado is can be formed from a thunderstorm.

Besides that, tornadoes can be measured today by this Fujita scale, tornados can bring high speed winds that are deadly for unprotected humans. And the last one is that tornados can be formed in the water too, but they won’t be as damaging as the ones formed overland.

Q: What are the four stages of a tornado you should know? 

A: Just like the other natural phenomena, the tornado has also four stages you should be aware of. Because of thunderstorm tornado, can be formed.

The first stage is the organization stage wherein this is a consequence of having the updrafts direction of the cold air and the warm system. This happens when the swirling air touches the ground, this is where you can conclude that it is a tornado.

The second stage is the mature stage, this is where the high speed winds are already developed. This stage signals that a tornado is ready to cause maximum destruction.

On the shrinking stage, the tornado becomes smaller and it will have a smaller base at the same time. This is the stage where the tornado lessens its speed and strength as well.

The last stage where the tornado becomes unstable and it’s starting to disappear to the area is what you called the decaying stage. 

Q: What is the first thing you need to do whenever there is a tornado? 

A: When you are at home, what you need to do is go to the place where it’s safest. Usually, people have their own room for this kind of situation where there is no window type of room. Some people have their underground room, then when there is a tornado you need to go there quickly.

Another option you can have is to go on the isolated small room such as your cabinet, comfort room, floor, or the other area which the air can’t pass through. Knowing the fact that air is one of the most destructive things about this tornado. 

Q: What are the things you can’t do whenever there is an occurrence of a tornado?

A: You need to be aware what are the things you need to do when there is a tornado, the same thing as being aware of what you can’t do during this time.

The first thing you can’t do is to open your door or your window to look at what is happening. You can’t do this thing as there is a lot of debris falling and touring around. This is because of the high speed of the air and its rotating direction as well. Another thing you can’t do is not taking the warning and signs of the coming tornado in your area.

Whenever you notice that your place location is prone and there is something unusual with the color of the cloud then you need to take an action. You need to move quickly especially if you are on the streets and go to the nearest and safest place for you to evacuate.

Then another thing you should not do when the tornado hits your place is to try and outrun it. If you are on the streets and driving a car when a tornado happens, what you need to do is get out of your car and look for the place where you can run quickly to shelter.

You should not drive and think that you could do it in a quicker time. The tornado moves at high speed and has strong winds at the same time, and if you try to outrun it, the tornado might harm you. 

Q: What’s the smell of a tornado? 

A: The right answer to this question depends on the place where it happens. Usually when the tornado occurs to the place where there are a lot of trees or into nature. The smell of this is most likely fresh-cut trees and plants with soil. This can be described as just like when it’s raining and the dry soil becomes wet.

Q: What tornado is capable of destroying? 

A: Because of the high speed of the wind and its strength there are many things that it can damage. The destruction depends on what types of tornado occur to the place. If the place experiences the small one or a rope tornado then this can only damage the nearest plants and some houses. But when a wedge type of tornado occurs, it can damage anything from buildings, power lines, to bridges and skyscrapers.

Q: How long can a tornado hit one area? 

A: This highly depends on the tornado and where it occurs. However, most tornadoes only occur for less than one hour, some only lasts minutes. However, the sheer destructive force of a tornado still makes it a very dangerous weather phenomenon.

Final Thoughts

Tornadoes are one of the worst things that can happen. It will cause a lot of devastation to the environment, to the infrastructure, and to humans like us. It’s also very unpredictable, it can happen anywhere anytime without prior warning.

Because of that, if you live in an area where tornadoes frequently form, it’s very important to learn how to mitigate the damaging effects of a tornado. If you’re prepared, a tornado will not strike you by surprise and you’ll be able to survive better.

We hope this article sheds some light on tornadoes, how to know if they’re coming, and finally how to prepare and survive tornadoes.

Have you experienced tornados in your area, how did you know it? What are the things you did after hitting your place in the tornado?

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