Tornadoes are a way of life for families living in tornado alley, but here in Michigan, it's easy to feel unprepared for these natural disasters since we only experience a few tornadoes per year. But remember, although they are more common in the Great Plains, a tornado can occur almost anywhere. To protect your home and family from tornadoes, educate yourself on the warning signs and when to take cover.
Learn the Warning Signs
Tornadoes strike with very little warning. Over the years, with more advanced science and technology, meteorologists are better able to predict signs that a twister is on its way. Even having just a few minutes warning can provide an opportunity to seek shelter if you’re in harm’s way. If you live in an area with a history of tornadic activity, there may be warning sirens or a digital messaging system in your community to alert residents to find proper shelter immediately.
Other signs of tornadoes are:
- Dark greenish skies
- Dark, rotating, low-altitude cloud
- Loud roar, like a train
- Large hail or heavy rain followed by dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift.
- Large clouds rushing by quickly overhead or rushing together to form a funnel
Tornado Watch vs. Tornado Warning
When the National Weather Service issues a tornado watch it means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop. When under a watch, be alert to changes in the weather, check to be sure all family nearby is safe, and keep the TV and Radio on so you’re able to listen to reports and stay on top of changing storm information.
A tornado watch can give you valuable time to prep your home and surrounding property for a disaster. Take this time to move cars into the garage if possible; you’ll also need to keep car and house keys with you at all times. You could also move lawn furniture and equipment into a garage or shed to minimize flying debris. If you’re not able to utilize a shed or garage you could temporarily move items into the larger rooms of your home. If a tornado siren sounds, stay inside your home and take cover in an interior room away from windows. If you have a storm shelter, move your family into the storm shelter when sirens sound.
A tornado warning means a tornado has already been spotted in your area. This means danger could be imminent and you may only have seconds to take cover. Immediately move to an interior room or storm shelter with your radio. Do not leave the space you’ve taken cover in until an all clear has been issued
Although tornadoes may be less common in Michigan, stay alert during these stormy summer months and make sure you're prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at you!
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