WHAT IS A TORNADO?
A tornado is defined as a
violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground.
The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind
speeds of 250 mph or more. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50
WHAT CAUSES TORNADOES?
Thunderstorms develop in warm,
moist air in advance of eastward-moving cold fronts. These thunderstorms often
produce large hail, strong winds and tornadoes. Tornadoes in the winter and
early spring are associated with strong frontal systems that form in Texas and
Oklahoma and move eastward toward Caddo-Bossier area. Occasionally, large
outbreaks of tornadoes occur with this type of weather pattern. Several states
may be affected by numerous severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.
During the spring in the
South-Central States, thunderstorms frequently develop along a "dryline" which
separates very warm, moist air to the east from hot, dry air to the west.
Tornado-producing thunderstorms may form as the dryline moves east during the
Along the front range of
the Rocky Mountains, in the Texas Panhandle, and in the southern High Plains,
thunderstorms frequently form as air near the ground flows "upslope" toward
higher terrain. If other favorable conditions exist, these thunderstorms can
Small tornadoes can even
accompany tropical storms and hurricanes that move over land. Tornadoes are most
common to the right and ahead of the path of the storm center as it comes
FREQUENCY OF TORNADOES
Tornadoes can occur at any time of
Tornadoes are most likely
to occur between 3 and 9 p.m. but have been known to occur at all hours of the
day or night.
The average tornado moves
from southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any
direction. The average forward speed is 30 mph, but may vary from nearly
stationary to 70 mph.
WHAT TO LISTEN FOR
Tornadoes are possible in our area. Remain
alert for approaching storms.
Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. If
a tornado warning is issued for your area and the sky becomes threatening, move
to your pre-designated place of safety.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Severe thunderstorms are possible in our area.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Severe thunderstorms are occurring.
Remember, tornadoes occasionally develop in areas in which a severe thunderstorm
watch or warning is in effect. Remain alert to signs of an approaching tornado
and seek shelter if threatening conditions exist.
WHO’S MOST AT RISK?
People in automobiles.
The elderly, very young
and the physically or mentally impaired.
People in mobile homes.
People who may not
understand the warning due to a language barrier.
Areas near rivers, lakes, and mountains
are safe from tornadoes.
No place is safe from tornadoes. In the late 1980’s, a
National Park leaving a path of destruction up and down a 10,000-ft. mountain.
The low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to
"explode" as the tornado passes overhead.
Violent winds and debris slamming into buildings cause
most structural damage.
Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to
equalize pressure and minimize damage.
Opening windows allows damaging wind to enter the
structure. Leave the windows alone; instead, immediately go to a safe place.
TORNADO SAFETY: WHAT YOU CAN DO
Before the Storm:
Develop a plan for
yourself and your family for home, work, school and when outdoors. Call OEP for
Have frequent drills.
Have a NOAA Weather Radio
with a warning alarm tone and a battery backup to receive warnings.
Listen to radio and
television for information.
If planning a trip
outdoors, listen to the latest forecasts and take necessary action if
threatening weather is possible.
If a warning is issued or if
threatening weather approaches:
In a home or building,
move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement.
If an underground shelter
is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and
get under a sturdy piece of furniture.
Stay away from windows.
Do not try to outrun a
tornado in your car; instead leave it immediately.
If caught outside or in a
vehicle, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression.
Mobile homes, even if tied
down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned.
Occasionally, tornadoes develop so
rapidly that advance warning is not possible. Remain alert for signs of an
approaching tornado. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most deaths and
It’s up to you!
Each year, many people are
killed or seriously injured by tornadoes despite advance warning. Some did not
hear the warning while others received the warning but did not believe a tornado
would actually affect them. The preparedness information in this section
combined with timely severe weather watches and warnings, could save your life
in the event a tornado threatens your area. After you have received the warning
or observed threatening skies, YOU must make the decision to seek shelter before
the storm arrives. It could be the most important decision you will ever
TORNADO SAFETY IN SCHOOLS
Every school should have a plan!
FAMILY DISASTER PLAN
Families should be prepared for
all hazards that affect their area. The Office of Emergency Preparedness urges
each family to develop a family disaster plan.
Where will your family be
when disaster strikes? they could be anywhere – at work; at school or in the
car. How will you find each other? Will you know if your children are safe?
Disasters may force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your
home. What would you do if basic services – water, gas, electricity or
telephones – were cut off?
Follow these basic steps to develop a
family disaster plan.
Gather information about
Contact the Shreveport
National Weather Service at 631-3669, the Louisiana OEP at 800-256-7036, or the
American Red Cross at 865-9545. find out what types of disasters could occur and
how you should respond. Learn your community’s warning system and evacuation
Discuss the information you
have gathered. Pick two places to meet: a spot outside your home for an
emergency, such as a fire, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you
can’t return home. Choose an out-of-state friend as your "family check-in
contact" for everyone to call if the family gets separated. Discuss what you
would do if advised to evacuate.
Meet with family to create
(1) Purchase a weather radio with
automatic warning: (2) Post emergency telephone numbers; (3) Install safety
features in your house, such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers; (4)
Inspect your home for potential hazards (such as items that can move, fall,
break or catch fire) and correct them; (5) Have your family learn basic safety
measures, such as CPR and first aid; how to use a fire extinguisher; and how and
when to turn off water, gas, and electricity in your home; (6) Teach children
how and when to call 9-1-1; (7) Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your
needs for at least three days. Assemble a disaster supplies kit with items you
may need in case of an evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry
containers, such as backpacks, or duffel bags. Keep important family documents
in a waterproof container. Keep a smaller disaster supplies kit in the trunk of
Implement your plan.
A disaster supplies kit should include:
A 3-day supply of water (one gallon per
person per day) and food that won’t spoil *one change of clothing and footwear
per person * a first aid kit including a battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and
a portable radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries * an extra set of car
keys and a credit card or cash * special items for infant, elderly or disabled