Many of us look forward to warmer springtime weather as the winter cold starts to fade. Gentle springtime showers, however, can also be displaced in many regions by more severe thunderstorms. For much of the country, this often translates into dangerous weather like flash flooding and even tornadoes. According to The Weather Channel, the number of U.S. tornadoes reached a five-year high in March of 2017. Specifically, the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) at NOAA logged 299 preliminary reports of these destructive storm systems. This was more than twice the 10-year average of 133 between 2005 and 2015.
So what does all of this mean for the upcoming spring season in 2018? Though technology has enabled us to better anticipate storm fronts, it’s hard to accurately tell if and exactly when a tornado will strike. Also, tornado season varies based on region. For example, in parts of the southeastern U.S., tornadoes can form as early as January. Meanwhile, in areas of the Dakotas, tornado season can begin as late as June. Luckily, knowing when a disaster is likely to strike can help us better prepare for the season—and increase our safety.
What Causes Tornadoes? Tornadoes form when warm, humid winds get trapped below cool, dry arctic air, and winds at ground level move in a different direction than those above. This can cause the rising air to spin, which is ultimately what creates funnel clouds, also called tornadoes.
Where are Tornadoes Likely to Occur? Most often, tornadoes in the U.S. occur in what’s known as “Tornado Alley,” which includes areas between the Rockies and the Appalachians, and from central Texas up through the Canadian prairies.
Does a tornado give off any early signs? If your area is anticipating heavy rain or any big thunderstorms, stay aware. Keep watch for heavy rainfall or hail followed by a sudden wind shift or complete calmness.
What you should do in the event of a tornado: Establish a designated area in your home to take shelter. Your place of work should also have a designated area, such as a windowless stairwell or an interior room. Underground areas such as basements and cellars are ideal spaces to take cover during tornadoes. If you’re able, you can cover yourself with a mattress, blanket or padded item to add protection from falling debris. Of course, tornadoes don’t always strike when you’re indoors. If you’re driving a vehicle and the tornado is visible but in the distance, take an alternate route opposite of the storm and drive until you reach a place with underground shelter. You may also exit your vehicle and take cover in a ditch or another place close to the ground, covering yourself with any coats or blankets, if possible.
No one wants to fall victim to a tornado. However, if you’re prepared for the storms that could strike this spring, that’s half the battle. Remember, it’s important to seek shelter from powerful storms—not chase them. If for any reason your home is damaged by storms this spring, know that the experts at Paul Davis are prepared to step in and help you get your house feeling like home again.