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Tornado warning! What to do?

Friday, January 22, 2010 Posted by Rita A

In response to my story of the Wacky Weather we have been having this past few days in Southern California, I am posting the guidelines about what to do in case of a tornado. By the way it was confirmed - it was a tornado that hit Orange County, CA the other day as stated in my story. There was also one today in Ventura that did quite a bit of damage. As you can see tornadoes can hit anywhere! I am still getting rain, rain and more rain. This is the 4th storm of the week but this one is bringing hail. Mudslides are now occuring because the ground is so saturated. I need some sun!

To answer to a few requests - here is important information about Tornadoes:

Tornado watch: Conditions are right for tornadoes.

When a tornado watch is issued, the American Red Cross advises you to tune to local television and radio stations for weather updates. A tornado watch is issued when conditions are favorable for the formation of a tornado. The Red Cross stresses the importance of keeping aware of the changing weather situation; the more time you have to move to safety, the more likely you and your family are to survive unharmed.

Mobile or manufactured homes are especially vulnerable to damage in tornadoes.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges mobile home residents to arrange in advance for a safe place to go when tornadoes threaten.

Tornado warning: A tornado is coming.

A tornado warning presents an immediate threat. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado is spotted visually or on weather radar.

What to do:
In case of a tornado warning, FEMA advises you to:

Go at once to the basement, storm cellar or the lowest level of the building.
If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.
Get away from the windows.
Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they tend to attract debris.
Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.
Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
If you’re in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere.

If you're caught outdoors during a tornado, don't try to outrun it in your car. A tornado can change directions quickly. You should seek shelter indoors immediately. If that isn't possible, get out of your car and duck down in the lowest spot you can find, such as a ditch or gully. Because a tornado doesn't suck objects up, but blows them around, a highway underpass is not safe since it leaves you exposed to flying debris.

For more detailed information please visit FEMA: Tornado or wikihow: How to survive a Tornado.

I have been asked on many occasions which one scares me the most. Tornadoes while living in Oklahoma or the earthquakes while in California?

My answer - Earthquakes. There is no warning in place for earthquakes. In my opinion tornadoes can be very frightening but with the weather patterns and the science they really are not that surprising. You at least have notification about a tornado situation. I have been in a tornado warning once that I had to seek shelter at the local underground storm shelter. I was also in one where I was hiding in my home closet. The tornadoes never came but it was pretty scary.

Earthquakes - No warning. No control. I am terrified of them. I will explain earthquake safety in another post.

Stay safe out there.