A tornado is a violent, rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground with the most violent producing massive destruction with wind speeds of 250 mph or more. Some damage paths can be as large as creating paths of 50 miles wide.

Tornadoes typically travel southwest to northeast, but they can move in any direction. The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph but it may vary from stationary to 70mph. Although tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, they are found most frequently in the United States during the spring and summer months.

In an average year, 800 tornadoes are reported nationwide, resulting in 80 deaths and over 1,500 injuries. They can strike quickly without adequate time for a tornado warning to sound and even form without a thunderstorm in the vicinity.

When you're watching for rapidly emerging tornadoes, know that clouds or rain may block your view and prevent you from identifying a funnel. Below are more tips to keep you and your family safe.

Step 1: Designate your home’s “Shelter Area”
Remind everyone of your safe place.

Step 2: Prepare An Emergency Kit
The American Red Cross recommends a "disaster supplies kit" containing the following items:

• A first aid kit with essential medication in addition to the usual items
• A battery powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries
• Canned and other non-perishable foods and a hand-operated can opener
• Bottled water
• Candles and matches
• Sturdy shoes and work gloves
• Cash and credit cards
•Written instructions on how to turn off your home’s utilities

Step 3: Heed the Warning Signs
Although every storm is unique, it’s helpful to know the warning signs of an impending tornado:
• A dark, often greenish sky, a wall cloud and large hail may appear.
• A loud roar similar to that of a freight train maybe heard.
• An approaching cloud of debris can indicate a tornado even if a funnel is not visible.
• Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still.

Step 4: Know the Difference
Every storm has the potential to turn into a tornado, so it’s important to pay close attention to
weather advisories and to know the difference between a watch and a warning.

•A tornado watch means that weather conditions are favorable for the development of
tornadoes. Stay alert and keep tuned in for further advisories.
•A tornado warning means that a tornado has actually been sighted or detected by weather

Step 5: Know Your Surroundings
If you have recently moved, be sure to familiarize yourself with the names of your surrounding
communities. This knowledge will help you to better track the tornado’s direction and proximity
to you.

Step 6: Seek Safe Shelter
If a warning has been issued, seek shelter immediately. If possible, get to the lowest level of
the structure you are in. Crouch low, protect your head and stay clear of windows.