Tornadoes are one of the most frightening natural disasters in the world, and they can occur suddenly with little to no warning. While tornadoes can occur any time of year, they’re most common in the United States from March to July. In fact, about 1,200 tornadoes occur in the U.S. each year, and tornadoes have been reported in all 50 states. Disclosure 1
What to look for
A tornado is a narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground. Since it’s formed by wind, which is invisible, a tornado can be difficult to see unless it forms a condensation funnel made up of water droplets, dust, and debris. However, there are a few key signs to be on the lookout for: Disclosure 2
- A dark, often greenish sky
- Large hail, often in the absence of rain
- Thunderstorms and lightning, which may die down with the air becoming very still right before a tornado develops
- A loud roar similar to a freight train
- The appearance of a wall cloud or cloud of debris (even if a funnel isn’t visible)
Tornado watch vs. tornado warning
The NOAA National Weather Service issues two types of alerts regarding tornadoes: Disclosure 1
- A tornado watch means weather conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form in your area. When a tornado watch is issued, make sure you exercise caution, stay in a safe location indoors, and keep your radio tuned to NOAA Weather.
- A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar in your area. When there’s a tornado warning, you should immediately find safe shelter until the warning passes.
What to do
If a tornado warning has been issued, immediately take the following steps: Disclosure 3
- Go to a safe interior area, such as a basement, storm cellar, safe room, or small interior room on the lowest level of the home or building.
- Stay away from windows, doors, and exterior walls.
- Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
If you’re outdoors with no safe shelter nearby, or if you’re in your car, find a ditch, ravine, culvert, or other low-lying area. Lie flat and cover your head with your hands.
Protecting your home and property
The United States experiences more tornadoes than any other country in the world, with U.S. insured losses from tornadoes totaling about $10 billion each year since 2008. Disclosure 4 Given those risks, it’s important to make sure you have the right amount of insurance coverage to protect your home and property. When was the last time you had an insurance review? Get in touch with your McGriff insurance professional if you have any questions or would like to schedule a review.
The National Severe Storms Laboratory, “Severe Weather 101 – Tornadoes,” https://www.nssl.noaa.gov/education/svrwx101/tornadoes/, accessed May 6, 2021.
Emergency Medical Services Authority, “Warning Signs That a Tornado May Develop,” https://emsaonline.com/resource-library/summer-safety-tips/warning-signs-that-a-tornado-may-develop/, accessed May 6, 2021.
Ready.gov, “Tornadoes,” https://www.ready.gov/tornadoes, accessed May 6, 2021.
Insurance Information Institute, “Facts + Statistics: Tornadoes and Thunderstorms,” https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-tornadoes-and-thunderstorms, accessed May 7, 2021.
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