During the spring and fall, weather conditions are ripe for tornadic activity. When stormy weather moves in, tune in to your local radio or television station for the latest weather updates. Plan ahead with your family so that everyone knows ahead of time what to do in case of a tornado or other severe weather. Designate a “contact person” in another part of town or elsewhere that can be called by everyone in case family members become separated.


A tornado “watch” means that a tornado is possible.

A tornado “warning” means that a tornado has been spotted or is strongly indicated on radar. You should immediately seek shelter when a tornado “warning” is issued for your area.

Things to watch for
A sickly green or greenish black color to the sky
When a watch or warning has been issued, the fall of hail is a significant danger sign of tornadic activity
A strange quiet occurs within a short time after the thunderstorm
Clouds moving very fast, especially in a rotating pattern or converging toward one area of the sky
Sound of a waterfall rushing at first, but turning into a roar as it comes closer (has also been likened to a train or jet sound)
Debris dropping from the sky
An obvious “funnel-shaped” cloud that is rotating
Debris being pulled upward, even if no funnel cloud is visible

Homes or other small buildings

  • Go to a basement or to an interior room on the lowest floor, such as a closet or bathroom
  • Seek shelter under stairs or heavy piece of furniture (such as a table) or in a tub. Put as many walls between you and the tornado as possible
  • Cover yourself with a mattress, pillows, blankets or quilt to protect against flying debris

Schools, shopping centers or other facilities

  • Leave auditoriums, gyms and other free-span rooms
  • Go to interior small rooms or halls on the lowest floor
  • Stay away from exterior walls or glassy areas
  • Crouch down to make the smallest “target” possible. If you have something to cover your head, do so, otherwise, use your hands

High rise buildings

  • Find an interior room or hallway away from glass partitions or windows
  • Central stairways are a good place to seek shelter
  • Stay out of the elevators, if the building loses power, you may be in the elevator for a long time

Mobil homes

  • Abandon them immediately!
  • Prepare ahead of time by asking the mobile home park management the location of shelters

In a car or outside with no suitable structure nearby

  • Never try to outrun a tornado in a car, leave the vehicle and find a low lying area or ditch and use your hands to cover your head
  • Do Not take cover in an underpass. Debris flying under the underpass could be very deadly