Tornados are a common occurrence in this region, and they can be pretty devastating. That’s why it’s essential to know when tornado season is, how to prepare for them, what you should do if you find yourself in the middle of one, and other frequently asked questions about tornadoes that people often have.
Below is a list of some of the most commonly asked questions about tornadoes, which will be answered in this tornado season article.
- When is Tornado Season in Texas?
- When is Tornado Season in Oklahoma?
- When is Tornado Season in Arkansas?
- What Does a Tornado Sound Like?
- How Do You Measure Tornado Strength?
- When Do Tornado Sirens Go Off?
- What Do Tornado Clouds Look Like?
- What Other Natural Hazards Are Associated With Tornado Formation?
- What Is The Difference Between A Cyclone And A Tornado?
- What Happens If A Tornado Picks You Up?
- Which Is Worse Tornado Watch Or Warning?
- What Does A Tornado Look Like From Space?
- What Does Isolated Tornado Mean?
- Tornado Safety Tips
When Is Tornado Season in Texas?
The tornado season in Texas typically runs from March to June. However, some major tornado outbreaks have occurred outside of this time frame and can take place from northern Texas all the way down to the gulf coast. For example, a tornado touched down in Amarillo on Christmas Day in 2004.
If you live in Texas, be sure to monitor local weather forecasts and heed any issued warnings. If a tornado event is imminent, seek shelter in an interior room on the lowest level of your home. Do not try to outrun a tornado – you are much more likely to be injured or killed if you attempt this.
When is Tornado Season in Oklahoma?
The tornado season in Oklahoma typically runs from March through May. However, several tornadoes have been reported in the state as early as February and as late as June.
While it is impossible to predict when and where a tornado will strike, residents of Oklahoma are urged to stay aware of developing weather conditions during the spring months and take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their property.
When is Tornado Season in Arkansas?
The average Tornado season in Arkansas typically runs from March through June. However, tornadoes have been reported as early as February and as late as July.
Usually, Arkansas experiences its secondary severe weather season in the fall. This trend has been consistent over the past few years, with tornadoes happening two out of three times in 2001-2002, 2004-2006, and 2014.
What Does a Tornado Sound Like?
Tornadoes have been described as sounding like a freight train, a roaring monster, or even whooshing air. Some strong tornadoes sound like a roar with a continuous rumble underneath them. In the most violent tornadoes, there may be no noise at all.
EF0-EF3 tornadoes produce a roar that sounds like a freight train. It has been described as sounding like air whooshing past you very quickly. The sound may be continuous, or it may become louder and fade away again. These tornadoes are typically weaker and shorter-lived than stronger tornadoes.
EF4 and EF5 tornadoes produce a deep, continuous rumble that can be heard up to 10 miles away. These are the strongest and longest-lasting tornadoes.
How Do You Measure Tornado Strength?
Several scales measure the strength of tornadoes. The most widely used scale is the Enhanced Fujita scale (EF). It was developed in 1971 by Dr. Tetsuya Theodore Fujita of the University of Chicago estimated wind speeds based on damage indicators left behind in tornado paths. Although it has its limitations, this scale is generally accepted as an excellent way to compare and estimate tornado strengths worldwide.
The EF Scale for Tornadoes
The original Fujita scale was based on a damage survey conducted by Dr. Fujita in the early 1970s. The Fujita scale was updated in 2007 when ratings for “significant” tornadoes began being issued. The new EF-scale provides more accuracy regarding wind speed ranges observed with each tornado type.
The Enhanced Fujita Scale uses a standard set of measurements to rank tornadoes’ strength, divided into ranges called “Tiers.”
- EF0 – 40–72 mph — light damage
- EF1 – 73–112 mph — moderate damage
- EF2 – 113–157 mph– considerable damage
- EF3 – 158–206 mph — severe damage
- EF4 – 207–260 mph — devastating damage
- EF5 – 260–318 mph — incredible damage
Examples of Damage that could occur based on EF Scale
- EF0 – May be invisible due to rain or nearby low-hanging clouds; no serious damage, but often scary nonetheless.
- EF1 – Mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned; moving automobiles pushed off the roads.
- EF2 – Roofs damaged and some trees snapped or uprooted; trains overturned.
- EF3 – Well-constructed houses leveled with walls and debris driven into nearby fields.
- EF4 – Near-total destruction of well-built frame homes, metal carports tossed and screw pickets bent.
- EF5 – Strong frame houses lifted off foundations, carried considerable distances, and disintegrated; auto-sized missiles airborne for several hundred feet or more; trees debarked.
When Do Tornado Sirens Go Off?
Tornado sirens are used to warn people of an oncoming tornado. They typically go off when a tornado is spotted in the area or when there is an increased risk of a tornado based on current atmospheric conditions.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issues Tornado Watches and Tornado Warnings. A Tornado Watch means that conditions are ripe for a tornado to form, while a Tornado Warning means a tornado has been spotted or is imminent.
If you hear a tornado siren going off, it is essential to take shelter immediately. Tornado sirens are often tested on a regular basis, but it is still important to take shelter just in case. Tornado shelters can protect from an oncoming tornado. If you do not have access to a tornado shelter, go to the lowest level of your home or preferably a refuge in the ground.
What Do Tornado Clouds Look Like?
Tornado clouds are easily identifiable, thanks to their unique funnel-like shape. The cloud base is typically wider than the funnel itself, reaching high into the sky. The winds inside a tornado can reach up to 300 mph, so it’s crucial to be able to identify these dangerous clouds to take cover.
What Other Natural Hazards Are Associated With Tornado Formation?
The most common natural hazards associated with tornadoes are strong thunderstorms, flash floods, large hail, and damaging winds.
Tornadoes may also be associated with any natural event that produces severe weather. A tornado associated with a hurricane or tropical storm is known as a TORNADO ALLEY SPECIAL. Some of the more memorable Tornado Alleys occurred during Hurricane Carla (1961), Hurricane Beulah (1967), and Tropical Storm Erin (2007).
There have been some rare instances when tornadoes formed in association with earthquakes. On November 11, 2001, an F2 tornado struck the city of El Oro in southwestern Ecuador, killing three people. This was believed to be an isolated instance until December 26, 2002. An F2 tornado struck southeastern Peru near the town of Cerro de Pasco, killing two people. The epicenter was located in an active region of the Andean foothills where there were three moderate earthquakes within hours.
The deadliest tornado associated with an earthquake occurred on May 12, 1970, in western Nicaragua (Moguel) near Managua; it killed about 1,000 people. On September 26, 1997, authorities issued a rare tornado warning for Southern California as they feared that widespread wildfires would produce severe weather conditions conducive to tornadoes. No tornadoes developed, but it made for one of California’s most memorable fire-weather events ever recorded.
On April 25, 2011, severe thunderstorms caused extensive damage across North Alabama. This severe weather event was associated with the April 2011 tornado outbreak, which produced more than 300 tornadoes across the United States, including 20 EF3 and 5 EF4 tornadoes.
What Is The Difference Between A Cyclone And A Tornado?
Tornadoes and cyclones are both weather phenomena that occur when air masses collide. However, there are some critical differences between these two types of storms.
- A tornado is generally smaller than a cyclone. A tornado typically has a diameter of less than one kilometer, while a cyclone can have a diameter of up to several hundred kilometers.
- A tornado is more likely to form over land, while a cyclone is more likely to form over water.
- Lastly, the winds in a tornado are much stronger than the winds in a cyclone. The wind speeds in a tornado can reach up to 300 kilometers per hour, while the wind speeds in a cyclone are typically only around 100 kilometers per hour.
What Happens If A Tornado Picks You Up?
Tornadoes are capable of lifting objects off the ground, including people. There’s a chance that you may have seen the famous movie “The Wizard of Oz” and remember the scene where Dorothy is carried away in a tornado. If you find yourself in the path of a tornado, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of survival.
If you are caught outside when a tornado strikes, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If no building is available, try to find an area that is low-lying and away from trees. Lie flat on the ground and cover your head with your hands. Do not try to run from a tornado. It is important to remember that tornadoes can change direction quickly and without warning.
Which Is Worse Tornado Watch Or Warning?
A tornado watch is a warning that conditions are ripe for a tornado to form, while a tornado warning means one has been spotted and is thus the more serious of the two conditions.
Tornado watches are generally issued when weather conditions favor the formation of tornadoes. They usually come with a forecast of when they will expire. Watches are generally issued for large areas, so not everyone within the area will necessarily be under the watch.
Tornado warnings, on the other hand, are issued when a tornado has been spotted. The warning will tell you where it is and what direction it’s moving in. Warnings typically last for around 30 minutes, but they may be extended if the tornado is still on the move.
What Does A Tornado Look Like From Space?
When it comes to natural disasters, there is no force more terrifying than a tornado. The sheer speed of the storm combined with the amount of damage they can do is unparalleled. Most people will never see a tornado in real life, let alone from space, but we can provide early warning predictive modeling thanks to modern technology.
NASA used images and data recorded by GOES over 48 hours starting on April 28. In that time, it caught four tornadoes: two in Texas and two in Nebraska. It also captured several supercell thunderstorms — which produce tornadoes — across six states: Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska.
Tornadoes are visible as funnel-shaped clouds, with debris and dust spinning around them. The thunderstorms are also impressive, with huge, dark clouds looming overhead. The video above not only shows the tornado’s destructive nature but explains how they form, forecasting via ground and satellite technology, as well as a map overlay depicting the area known as tornado alley.
What Does Isolated Tornado Mean?
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. Isolated typically means that you are some distance away from the core of a severe storm and have time to take action before being affected by extreme weather. In other words, if you see a tornado warning issued for your area, but you don’t see any signs of a funnel cloud or a debris cloud, then it is probably safe to say that the warning is for an isolated tornado.
Isolated tornadoes can still be dangerous and deadly, so precautions should always be taken when there’s any chance of seeing one, even if it appears weak or rain-wrapped. If you live in an area where these events are common, we recommend you have a plan in place in case a tornado warning is issued.
Some things you can do to prepare for an isolated tornado include:
- Having a weather radio and turning it on when severe weather is possible
- Checking the local news or NOAA website for weather updates
- Putting together a disaster kit, including water, food, batteries, flashlights, and first-aid supplies
- Planning out an emergency evacuation route and familiarizing yourself with it
- Make sure your home is storm-ready by checking roofing, windows, and doors for damage or openings that could let wind and rain in.
- Securing any outdoor items that could become dangerous projectiles in high winds
- If you’re in your car and the tornado is bearing down on you, get out of your car if it’s safe to do so. Seek shelter in a sturdy building nearby. Lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area but be aware that these spots could flood during very heavy rains.
You should stay away from windows and never seek shelter under an overpass or bridge because debris can become deadly projectiles during tornadoes. Also, it’s not safe to get caught out in the open when a tornado is on its way.
Tornado Safety Tips
If you find yourself in the path of a tornado, it’s essential to know what to do. The best thing is to take shelter in an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. If there’s no time to get inside, then lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area away from cars and other objects that could be blown onto you. And whatever you do, DO NOT try to outrun a tornado!
For more tornado safety tips, check out our TLS Tornado & Civil Defense Siren Maintenance & Repair page.