Feature

Judy Garland as Dorothy and Toto pose in a black and white still from the movie The Wizard of Oz.
We’re not in Kansas, but we still get twisters. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Tornado Safety 101

By Kathleen Schenck
May 30, 2019

Tornadoes ranging in intensity from EF-0 to EF-3 touched down in Indiana on Memorial Day, according to the National Weather Service.

Severe thunderstorm and tornado watches and warnings, accompanied by town sirens, sent many of our Hoosier neighbors from their backyards to their basements this past Monday. Funnel clouds were also spotted but not recorded as tornadoes since they did not touch down.

While Holland was spared the severe weather this time around, it’s a good time to review tornado facts.

The National Weather Service explains that a Tornado Watch means conditions are possible for a tornado to form. Be prepared. A Tornado Warning means a tornado has been spotted, is occurring, or will shortly occur in your area. Seek shelter.

First and foremost, heed watches, warnings and especially the town siren. Take these seriously and take cover. Choose the lowest interior room of your home or business, and stay away from windows. If in a mobile home or vehicle, find the nearest substantial shelter.

Do not scoff at warnings. For example, an EF-0 does not sound too scary. But its winds can top 85 mph–enough to throw branches into windows, push over shallow-rooted trees and cause damage to a chimney. An EF-1 can blow a car off the road.

Since severe thunderstorms also bring great danger, take these watches and warnings seriously, too. From the National Severe Storms Laboratory: Under the right conditions, rainfall from thunderstorms causes flash flooding, killing more people each year than hurricanes, tornadoes or lightning. Lightning is responsible for many fires around the world each year, and causes fatalities. Hail up to the size of softballs damages cars and windows, and kills livestock caught out in the open. Strong (up to more than 120 mph) straight-line winds associated with thunderstorms knock down trees, power lines and mobile homes. 

We are fortunate to live in the Midwest for so many reasons, but tornadoes are a part of our reality. Give nature the respect it deserves–your life may depend on it.