Severe Weather Awareness Week: TORNADO SAFETY

Tornado Tips from Chief Meteorologist Joel Barnes


As we get closer to the peak of severe weather season in West Tennessee, now would be a good time for you to get a refresher on some severe weather safety tips and to make sure you are ready for the upcoming storm season.

Although tornadoes can occur at any time during the year in West Tennessee, the majority of our tornadoes occur from March through June, with the bulk of them in April and May.

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One of the most confusing things and biggest misconceptions folks have is the difference between a tornado watch and warning.

A watch means that storms could develop in your area, a warning means a tornado is happening or imminent in your area, and an emergency means a large and violent tornado is on the ground and approaching your area.

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It is important to know where you need to go in your home or place of business that will give you the best chance in the event a storm or tornado strikes your location.

The safest place to be is in a basement of your home, if it has one.

If it does not, the middle of your house in an area with no windows is the next safest place.

Most people who are hurt or killed in a tornado are hit with flying debris, which is why you must stay away from windows and put as many walls as possible between you and the outside of your home.

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Another misconception we also often hear is people thinking it is safe to move to an underpass to avoid the dangers of a tornado.

Past studies have proven this to be false and that winds from a tornado often accelerate in and around interstate overpasses.

You can also become trapped and not have anywhere to escape quickly if a tornado is approaching you.

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If you are going to be outdoors during a possible severe weather day, it is important that you have a plan and find a way to stay weather aware.

One of the best ways to do that is to download our WBBJ Storm Team Weather App from the Play Store or App Store. It is free and can track you and alert you to any dangers heading your way and give you time to get you and your love ones to safety.

Here are some additional tips from the National Weather Service!

Tornado Information & Safety

Deadly and devastating tornadoes have demonstrated their awful power in Missouri and Kansas.

Now is the time to develop a tornado safety plan before a tornado strikes. Knowing what to do before a tornado occurs is essential to protect lives.

Severe Thunderstorm Information & Safety

Severe thunderstorms produce a variety of weather hazards including tornadoes, large hail, damaging straight line winds, flooding, and lightning.

Now is the time to review Severe Weather Safety Information.

Severe thunderstorms producing damaging winds in excess of 60 mph and large hail can be a threat to life and property.  Damaging straight line winds are much more common than tornadoes and can be just as deadly.

Those caught outdoors during a severe thunderstorm are particularly vulnerable. Boaters and campers should be especially alert to the potential of severe storms.  High winds associated with severe thunderstorms can strike suddenly. Winds in excess of 60 mph can easily capsize boats and put campers at risk due to falling trees.

Flood Information & Safety

Typically, flooding results in more weather related fatalities than any other thunderstorm related hazard. Why? Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive across a flooded road.

For more information go to the Flood Safety page.

Lightning Information & Safety

At any given moment, there are 1,800 thunderstorms in progress somewhere on Earth. This
amounts to 16 million storms a year! In the United States, there are an estimated 25 million
cloud-to-ground lightning flashes each year. While lightning can be fascinating to watch, it
is also extremely dangerous.

Tragedies in school sponsored athletics are unfortunately a growing trend as well. When thunderstorms threaten, coaches and officials must not let the desire to start or finish an athletic activity or event cloud their judgment when the safety of participants and spectators is in jeopardy.

For more lightning facts and safety information go to the  NWS Lightning Awareness page.

Stay safe this storm season folks, and feel free to reach out to the weather team at WBBJ 7 if you have anymore questions on how to keep you and your family safe.

Storm Team Chief Meteorologist
Joel Barnes
Facebook: @JoelBarnesWeather
Twitter: @JoelBarnes13
Instagram: @joelbarnes13

Categories: Weather, Weather Blog