Every spring, residents in certain parts of the country prepare for the onslaught of thunderstorms and tornadoes. States most likely to see tornadoes during spring and summer include Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska. Together, these states make up what is known as “Tornado Alley.”
Metropolitan areas such as Houston and Oklahoma City are familiar with tornadoes because of their location. In fact, Houston saw a record of 35 tornadoes in 1980. 2004 was also full of tornado activity, with 18 tornadoes striking. In 1992, an F4 tornado struck the area, injuring 16 people. Fortunately, no one was killed, but the tornado caused great damage to property.
A Dangerous Air Combination
These reason these states are so likely to be hit by tornadoes is because they exist where warm, cold, dry and moist air combine – the exact conditions that tornadoes thrive in. Moist air moves in from the Gulf of Mexico while dry and cool air moves down in powerful gusts.
While Tornado Alley sees more tornadoes than other parts of the country, it isn’t the only area where tornadoes can strike. Areas on the outskirts of Tornado Alley, including Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri, see tornadoes, although this happens less frequently. Tornadoes aren’t unknown in states that are further from Tornado Alley, either. Wisconsin, for example, has seen many destructive tornadoes and has at least one tornado per year despite not being in what is generally accepted as Tornado Alley.
Preparing for a Tornado
Residents and municipalities in Tornado Alley understand that extra steps are often required to protect against tornadoes. News authorities will report a tornado warning, which means that tornadoes are likely occur, or a Tornado Watch, which indicates radar or human sighting of a tornado. Because tornadoes can quickly occur, you family might not have a lot of time to prepare.
Before tornado season, it’s important to create a kit that includes a flashlight with fresh batteries, battery-powered radio, emergency food and water, can opener, necessary medication, cash and comfortable shoes. These items are necessary because tornadoes might strike at any time, catching you off guard. Your children should know where to go in event of a tornado.
During a tornado, move to an interior room without windows. Basements and cellars are ideal, but a bathroom is also recommended. Closets can also work. Take shelter beneath sturdy furniture like a desk or table or get into the bathtub. Protect your head and neck from debris with your arms. Lying in a low area such as a ditch offers protection when outside. Drivers should not remain in their vehicles.
Listen to your radio for alerts that a tornado has passed. Always leave buildings immediately if you smell gas. If your property has been damaged, take photographs to submit to your insurance company. A restoration team can help you with this process.
Hopefully you don’t need to use your tornado kit, but it’s always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.