Disaster Preparedness

Tornadoes

Florida has two tornado seasons. The summer season, from June until September has the highest frequencies with usual intensities of EF0 or EF1 on the Fujita Scale. This includes those tornadoes that form from landfalling tropical cyclones.

The deadly spring season, from February through April, is characterized by more powerful tornadoes. When the jet stream digs south into Florida and is accompanied by a strong cold front and a strong squall line of thunderstorms, the jet stream's high level winds of 100 to 200 mph often strengthen a thunderstorm into what meteorologists call a supercell or mesocyclone. These powerful storms can move at speeds of 30 to 50 mph and produce dangerous downburst winds, large hail and the most deadly tornadoes.

In Florida, strong to violent tornadoes are just as likely to occur after midnight as they are in the afternoon. This unique feature makes these tornadoes more dangerous because most people are asleep after midnight and cannot receive weather warnings relayed by commercial radio or television stations.

The solution to this is to have a NOAA Weather Radio in your home with a tone alert feature. This will allow you to receive warnings issued by your local National Weather Service office.

LEARN THESE TORNADO DANGER SIGNS

  • An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if its funnel is not visible.
  • Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still.
  • Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

WHAT TO DO DURING A TORNADO

  • Go to an interior or basement room on lower level.
  • In a large building (school, hospital, etc.) go to a pre-designated shelter area or interior hall on lowest level.
  • Get under a mattress, sturdy desk or furniture if possible; use arms and hands to protect head.
  • In a mobile home, RV or trailer, get out immediately and go to a permanent structure.

WHAT TO DO AFTER A TORNADO

  • Call 9-1-1 to report damage and injuries.
  • Be aware of debris and downed power lines.
  • Monitor radio and TV for current information.
  • Check family for injuries; move injured only if necessary.
  • Check on neighbors when it is safe to do so.

IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE DURING A TORNADO

  • Lie flat in a nearby ditch or the lowest lying area and cover your head with your hands.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
  • Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes the most fatalities and injuries.