From coast to coast: Why having a severe weather plan is important

Collaborator: Rachael Schuit
Published: 04/05/2023, 12:51 PM
Edited: 04/05/2023, 1:59 PM

Photo Credit: Steve Piltz, NWS Tulsa

(NATIONAL) Spring is ramping up across the United States and that has many people excited for warmer weather and blossoming gardens. It's also the time that severe storms become more likely in parts of the country like the Midwest and the Central Plains. 

Despite tornadoes being most common in those areas of the country, they can and do happen in every state across the US. Even in Rhode Island, which registers a zero for annual tornado average, experienced its last tornado in 2018. 

Want to know how many tornadoes your state averages a year? Click here.

The National Weather Service (NWS) says that in a typical year, more than 1200 tornadoes take place across the country. 

Winds during a tornado can be greater than 200 mph. 

Residents in the southern part of Michigan have been warned of the possibility of tornadoes on Wednesday. NWS says severe storms could also produce strong tornadoes and large hail in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas.

With severe weather more likely, there are things you can do to prepare and keep yourself safe in the instance of a severe storm. 

According to the Michigan State Police, a tornado can develop in as little as 10 to 15 minutes, which is why it is so important to have a plan. 

Two of the most dangerous places to be during a tornado are in a vehicle or a mobile home. 

The NWS says people should never seek shelter under a highway overpass.

A tornado watch is issued when a tornado is possible, and a tornado warning is issued when a tornado is happening or is about to happen.  

When a tornado warning is issued, people in vehicles should get off the road as soon as possible and seek shelter. 

If you cannot get to a shelter, the NWS says you need to get down in your car and cover your head or leave your car and go to a low-lying area such like a ditch or a ravine. 

During times of severe weather, it is best to not be outside at all, which is why it is important to monitor storm conditions closely. This includes paying attention to your phone for emergency alerts, checking in with local tv and radio, listening for outdoor sirens, and tuning into a NOAA weather radio. It's important to note that outdoor sirens are designed to be heard outside and you may not hear them inside. 

The best place to seek shelter during a tornado is a small windowless room, preferably on the lowest level of a building like a basement. 

Another way to prepare for severe weather events like tornadoes is to have an emergency kit ready to go. An emergency kit should include water, a phone charger, non-perishable food, a flashlight, batteries, a first aid kit, and extra cash. 

More tornado safety tips can be found the National Weather Service website. 

While tornadoes are rightly considered dangerous storm events, experts say flooding is the lead cause of death and injury during severe weather. Tor learn more about how to prepare for and protect yourself and loved ones during flooding, click here.


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