Weather Ready | Tornado Guide

Here's what you need to know about tornadoes to keep you and your family safe during severe weather.

Know the Terms:

TORNADO WATCH: A "tornado watch" is issued when meteorologists believe that conditions are

favorable for the formation of severe weather and tornadoes. At this time, you should be going over your tornado safety rules and keeping abreast to the weather conditions via television, radio, or NOAA weather radio.

TORNADO WARNING: A "tornado warning" is issued when a tornado has been spotted or radar indicates a developing tornado. When a tornado warning is issued, head to a tornado-safe place, such as a basement or interior room.

Know What To Do:


Know what is going on with the weather. Stay tuned to local media outlets such as television or radio. If neither of these will be accessible, take a portable NOAA weather radio. Know what to look and listen for if threatening weather approaches, such as:

  • a greenish-black tint to the sky
  • rapidly-rotating clouds converging on a single point
  • a strange quiet followed by a sound like a waterfall or rushing air.
  • a sound like a railroad train or jet engine
  • debris dropping from the sky
  • a low-hanging cloud that looks to be rotating
  • objects such as branches and leaves being pulled upwards

Be sure to inform the blind or deaf about the weather conditions. Alert the elderly and ill about the impending weather situation as well.


There are several places that should NOT be considered as safe when a tornado is approaching. Seek shelter in another area if time allows if you are in a (an):

  • mobile home
  • car
  • truck,
  • auditorium
  • open field
  • high-rise building

3. Tornado Safety Tips

  • The safest place to be in a tornado is a basement or underground tornado-proof shelter. If neither of these are accessible, the inner-most and lowest room of a building, such as a closet or bathroom, provides some shelter.
  • Keep as many walls as possible between you and the tornado.
  • Cover yourself with blankets or sofa cushions to protect you from flying debris.
  • If you cannot find shelter indoors, get to a ditch or ravine, crouch into a fetal position, and cover your head.


Having a disaster kit BEFORE a tornado strikes may mean the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends the following in a kit:

  • a first aid kit with essential medications along with common items
  • a battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries
  • a hand-operated can opener along with canned and non-perishable food
  • bottled water
  • sturdy shoes and work gloves
  • written instructions on how to turn off your house's utilities
  • extra cash or credit cards
  • a camera for taking insurance pictures


After a tornado has moved through:

  • help injured or trapped people
  • give first aid when appropriate
  • don't try to move injured people unless further danger is imminent
  • call for help
  • turn on the radio or television for the latest emergency information
  • use the telephone only for emergencies
  • clean up spilled medicines, bleach, and flammable liquids immediately
  • leave the area if gas or burning fumes are present
  • stay out of damaged buildings
  • take pictures of the both the house and contents for insurance purposes

Scale Winds (MPH) Potential Damage

EF0 65 to 85 mph Minor: Peels sur face off some roofs; some damage to gutter s or sidings; br anches broken off trees; shallow rooted trees pushed over.

EF1 86 to 110 mph Moderate: Roofs sever ely str ipped; mobile homes over turned or badly damaged; loss of exter ior door s; windows and other glass broken

EF2 111 to 135 mph Considerable: Roofs torn off well-constructed homes; foundations of frame houses shifted; mobile homes completely destroyed; large trees snapped or uprooted; light object missiles generated; cars lifted off ground.

EF3 136 to 165 mph Severe: Entir stories of well-constructed houses destroyed; severe damage to large buildings such as shopping malls; trains overturned; trees debarked; heavy cars lifted off ground and thrown; some structures blown some distance.

EF4 166 to 200 mph Extreme to Near Total Destruction: Well-constructed homes and whole frame houses completely leveled; cars thrown and small missiles generated.

EF5 More than 200 mph Total Destruction: Strong frame houses leveled off foundations and swept away; steel-reinforced concrete structures badly damaged; high rise buildings have significant structural damage.

Download a copy of the WKYC Severe Weather Guide:


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment
More Stories