Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornadoes

Weather Forecasts

One of the most frightening & violent forms of severe weather that we see here in the midwest is tornadoes. The definition of a tornado is a rotating column of air which extends from the base of a cloud to the ground. In order to technically be a tornado, it MUST touch the surface – which can be verified by swirling dust or debris at ground level.

Tornadoes are possible all year long (though it’s very rare for them to happen during the winter), but they’re most common during the spring and summer seasons. A small second spike tends to happen in the autumn with big sweeping cold fronts cutting through. One of the most notable local tornadoes we’ve had in recent memory is the EF4 tornado which struck Wayne, NE on October 4, 2013.

About 90% of tornadoes are either an EF0 or EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale which is a measure of tornado intensity. At minimum, tornadoes carry wind speeds of 65 MPH. EF5 tornadoes, which make up less than 1% of all observed tornadoes, are the most devastating with wind speeds above 200 MPH.

If a Tornado Watch is issued for your location, take it seriously and stay up to date with what is happening. When a Tornado Warning is put out, seek shelter right away in the basement or lowest level of your house. Use a small interior room or get under the stairs if you have a basement – anything substantial & heavy that can help provide you with an extra buffer between yourself & the tornado. If you live in a mobile home and receive a Tornado Warning with enough time to act, make an effort to get to a more substantial shelter. Mobile homes are no match for stronger tornadoes – putting as many sturdy walls between yourself and the tornado is going to be your best bet!

To stay informed on changing weather conditions, tune into KCAU 9 News, download the new KCAU 9 app, or use a NOAA Weather Radio to get the latest information.

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