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Are you prepared for a tornado?

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Severe weather forecast map

Map via National Weather Service

Tornado season is here, but are you prepared?

Much of the southern and central states are preparing for the possibility of significant severe weather Saturday night through Sunday including the chance of large hail and tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service. The threat will move on into Monday for those living in the mid and lower Mississipi Valley.

This season has been one of the most mild tornado seasons with no reported deaths. But tornadoes are highly unpredictable, so it is important to understand them and to be prepared.

Too often are there stories of people who find themselves unprepared in the path of one of these storms. Here are some facts about tornadoes and tips to keep you safe. (Information from NOAA, The Weather Channel and the Red Cross.)

Be Aware of the Weather

  •  One of the first things you can do is make sure you are constantly checking weather updates when you know there is a threat of severe weather. Keep in mind where you will be in mind during your day and know where some of the best places are to take shelter.
  • The difference between a Tornado Watch and Tornado Warning: A Tornado Watch is when the conditions are right for the possibility of a tornado. A tornado Warning occurs when a tornado has been spotted, or circulation or a funnel cloud has been observed. This is the time to take immediate action.

Taking Shelter

  • The ideal place to take shelter is in an underground shelter, basement or safe room. If you don’t have that option, find a windowless interior room or hallway.
  • If  you find yourself driving, never seek shelter under a bridge or overpass. This is a very dangerous location.
  • Flying debris is one of the greatest dangers in tornadoes. Have protective coverings like a mattress, thick blankets and pillows near your shelter location.

Driving Tips

  • It’s always best to avoid driving during tornado conditions.
  • Never try to out-drive a tornado. They can easily and quickly change directions. Cars are one of the most dangerous places to be during a tornado.
  • Often heavy rain or rain-wrapped tornadoes can limit visibility or your ability to even spot a tornado. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean you are safe.
  • Get out of your car and seek shelter in a nearby building.
  • If there is no time to seek such shelter, get out of the car and lie in a ditch or significantly low area away from your car.


  • The Red Cross suggests you wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes if you were in the path of the tornado to limit injuries from debris or damage from structures.
  • Have your phone charged if you know severe weather is a significant possibility. Have other items like flashlights and food with you.
  • Have these things ready ahead of time so you don’t find yourself scrambling at the last minute. Go ahead and place them near your shelter location.