Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornadoes and Tornado Safety
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Nebraska. Each day the 10/11 Weather Team will cover a different weather topic that will get you ready for the severe weather season. Today’s topic is tornadoes and tornado safety.
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground. You may not be able to see it until debris is picked up. The key to the definition of a tornado is that the column of air is making contact with the ground. There can be a rotating column of air that is NOT making contact with the ground and that is called a funnel cloud.
The average for tornadoes in a calendar year in Nebraska is 51. In 2020, the Cornhusker State only had 21 reported tornadoes so it was a well below average year. The record for most tornadoes in one year (since 1950) is 110 in 2004. June and May are the top two months for tornadoes, but they can happen any time of the year as each month has had at least one in Nebraska including December, January and February. Tornadoes can also occur any time of the day if the conditions are right, but the majority happen between 4pm and 8pm with the top hour being 5pm.
When possible tornado damage is reported, the National Weather Service will investigate the damage caused. If it is determined that it was in fact a tornado, they will then rate it on the Enhanced Fujita scale from EF-0 to EF-5. With an EF-0, the damage is minor and the estimated wind speed is 65-85 mph. With an EF-5, the damage is incredible and the estimated wind speed is 200+ mph. EF-0 & EF-1 rated tornadoes make up 80 to 90% all tornadoes and less than 5% of tornado-related deaths. EF-4 and EF-5 rated tornadoes make up less than 2% of all tornadoes and about 66% of tornado-related deaths.
Make sure you have a severe weather plan and know where to go when a tornado warning is issued for your location. First, find a sturdy structure. Mobile homes are never safe in a tornado. You want to find the most interior room on the lowest level of your location (bathroom, closet or hallway for example) and stay away from windows. You are trying to put the most barriers between you and the outside as possible. Cover your head with a bike helmet, pillow, mattress or towels. If you are not at home, make sure you are aware of the severe weather safety plan at work, school or wherever you may be located. Be sure you have multiple ways to get severe weather information and stay aware of the weather situation is severe weather is possible that day.
Severe Weather Awareness Week continues Wednesday with the topic of thunderstorms and lightning.
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