According to a 2013 report by Lloyd’s of London, the U.S. experiences more tornadoes than any other country in the world. North Central Texas is a part of the famed “tornado alley” where a high volume of supercell thunderstorms often produces violent tornadoes.
Understanding the terms used by government agencies and the media to describe the likelihood and severity of potential tornadoes can greatly affect your actions during a storm. For example, a Tornado Watch vs. Tornado Warning. Tornado watches indicate that weather conditions are optimal for the formation of tornadoes, so stay tuned to emergency broadcasts and be ready to take shelter. Tornado warnings are only issued when a funnel cloud is sighted or indicated by radar. This is when you may hear a tornado siren. Take shelter immediately.
It may seem like local legend, but tornadoes can sometimes form without thunderstorms. If you see dark or green skies (often described as bruised-looking), a large low-flying and dark cloud, or big hail stones, it could mean a tornado is nearby. Witnesses often state hearing a sound like a distant rumbling freight train. If you see or hear these indicators, be cautious and take shelter. Wait to notify first responders and news outlets until you and your family have moved to safety.
Designate a safe room. This should always be an interior room with limited windows or a stairwell in a high-rise or commercial building with multiple floors. Use blankets, mattresses or sturdy tables to block flying debris and glass. Make sure you have an emergency kit prepared and stored in or near the room.
Pull over immediately. Weather moves at speeds your car can’t match. Try to find an area lower than the road. Overpasses are overrated and not as safe as movies have made them appear. Fasten your seat belt, lower your head below window-height, and cover your body with a blanket or jacket.