Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornadoes

By  | 

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Wednesday’s Severe Weather Awareness Week Topic is tornadoes.

We are no stranger to tornadoes here in Nebraska and the power and mystery that surrounds them makes tornadoes one of the topics we get asked most about as meteorologists.

Let’s start with the basics. What is a tornado? By definition, it is "a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground." Note the last part of that definition… to be a tornado it has to be in contact with the ground. Until then, it is a funnel cloud. It is also important to note that until a tornado picks up dirt and debris, they can sometimes be rather difficult or nearly impossible to see!

Tornadoes are rated on the EF scale, or Enhanced Fujita scale. This scale has been used since 2007 and is based on damage observed after a tornado has passed. Wind speeds are estimated based on this damage.

Take time now, during Severe Weather Awareness Week, to make sure you and your family have a safety plan in place so you can act quickly when severe weather strikes. Pay attention to the forecast so you know if tornadoes may be possible. If a warning is issued, get to the interior most room on the lowest level of a sturdy structure. Stay away from windows and cover your head if possible.

If you are outside when a warning is issued, you might hear Outdoor Warning Sirens. These are a sign to people outdoors that threatening weather is approaching. Outdoor Warning Sirens are NOT designed to alert folks indoors and should not be your only source of warning information. If you are outside, get indoors as quickly as possible and to a safe shelter. If that isn’t possible, get into a ditch or low lying area and cover your head.

Tornadoes are very powerful and should be taken seriously. But knowing what to do when threatening weather is approaching can make it a little less scary. Don’t be scared, just be prepared!