As the summer winds down, so too do the chances for wild weather, but for the 17 million residents of Tornado Alley, tornadoes are still very much a reality.
According to the NOAA, May is actually the most active month of the year for tornadoes with an average of 276 across the U.S. By September, the number drops to an average of 74. According to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, there were only 85 preliminary reports of tornadoes in July as compared to the 1991-2010 average of 134 for the same month. The NOAA says there have been a total of 309 tornadoes across the country including 130 in June and 113 in April, so 2014 is tracking to be a much more quiet year. In 2013 there were 908 tornadoes, with 939 in 2012, and a deadly 1691 in 2011. That was the year Joplin, Mo. was hit by an EF5 tornado that killed approximately 160 people and caused over $2 billion in insured losses.
Preparation ahead of time and knowing what to do in the event of tornado can help reduce the loss of life if one strikes.
Here are some safety tips courtesy of Rainbow International:
- Tornadoes usually pass through an area fairly quickly, so the safest place to be is in a basement, storm cellar or an interior room without windows.
- Have an emergency kit with packaged food, bottled water, flashlights & batteries, medications, blankets, extra clothes, pet supplies and books or puzzles to keep young children entertained.
- Have a place for family members to meet if separated by the storm. Select a family member or friend in another state for everyone to contact if separated.
- Schedule tornado drills and know the emergency action plans for school, work and other places frequented by the family.
- If a tornado is in the area, listen to and heed any advisories. Warning signs can include a dark, greenish-colored clouds or clouds with large hail, a funnel cloud, and a loud roar or rumble.
After the tornado passes, wait for emergency teams to arrive if necessary; avoid power lines and puddles with wires in them; watch for broken glass, nails and other sharp objects; and never use matches or a lighter in case of leaking natural gas or fuel tanks.