Tornado Safety Tips

Learn What To Do During A Tornado


What causes a tornado?

Tornadoes are strong and violent rotating columns of air that extend from a thunderstorm to the ground. Tornadoes develop when warm, moist air rises and contacts a cold jet stream. Before the storms actually develop, a change in wind direction and speed with increasing height creates a spinning effect. Within the thunderstorm, air then rises and tilts the rotating air to a vertical position and this forms a tornado. 

When are tornadoes most likely to occur?

Tornadoes can occur anywhere at any time, but most often occur in early Spring and develop in the Central Plains. In Texas, tornadoes are most common in April, May, and June between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Typically tornadoes travel on the ground at 35 miles per hour for less than 15 miles. These storms are, however, the most destructive atmospheric phenomena. Watch out for a tornado if you see dark, greenish skies, wall clouds, large hail, and a loud roar (like a freight train).


  • Always stay away from windows and doors, as most tornado injuries and deaths are caused by flying debris, not the actual tornado.
  • The area next to where large hail falls is often the part of the storm where strong to violent tornadoes develop. If you are in large hail, a tornado could come next. Once the hail stops, allow 15-20 minutes for the storm to move away before coming out of the shelter.
  • For years, scientists thought the low atmospheric pressure associated with a tornado was responsible for damage to buildings. We now know that the sudden drop in pressure has little to do with damage. Most buildings leak enough air to equalize the pressure. The old rule about opening a window to minimize damage is not true.
  • The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 miles per hour. However, they have been clocked moving as fast as 90 miles an hour.
  • Most tornadoes move from southwest to northeast, but they can change direction suddenly.

The average tornado is less than 100 yards wide, but still can cause damage and injuries. Don't let a small tornado fool you! Tornado Safety

F Scale - A scale giving tornadoes a numerical rating (F0 thru F5) based on their intensity.
F0 - weak tornadoes with winds of 40-72 mph  F3 - strong tornadoes with winds of 158-206 mph
F1 - weak tornadoes with winds of 73-112 mphF4 - violent tornadoes with winds of 207-260 mph
F2 - strong tornadoes with winds of 113-157 mphF5 - violent tornadoes with winds of 261-318 mph

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