Though rare in West Virginia, tornadoes can hit in the area with little warning. These dangerous episodes can destroy homes, trees and lives in just a matter of seconds.
Tornadoes originate from extremely intense thunderstorms and appear as rotating, funnel-shaped clouds.
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests knowing the following facts about tornadoes:
- They may strike quickly, with little or no warning.
- They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
- The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 MPH, but may vary from stationary to 70 MPH.
- Tornadoes are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.
- Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer.
- Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., but can occur at any time.
Know the warning signs
FEMA suggest staying up-to-date and know the following signs of a possible tornado.
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.
- Look for approaching storms
- Look for the following danger signs:
> Dark, often greenish sky
> Large hail
> A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
> Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
Keep safe during a tornado
It is always best to come up with an emergency plan as a family before a disaster strikes. Parents should explain to their children that following ways to stay safe during a tornado. If you are in a…
...Structure—like a residence, shopping mall, or school
Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open windows.
...Vehicle, trailer, or mobile home
Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.
...Outdoors without shelter
Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding.
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 most fatalities and injuries.
After a tornado
Follow FEMA’s guidelines for a safe return to normal following the storm.