Staying safe during potential tornado threats

Published: Mar. 22, 2019 at 1:41 PM CDT
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When it comes to tornado safety, first of all, you should always have a plan in place. Planning ahead and knowing the safety rules are essential for being prepared when a tornado strikes your parish.

When it comes to homes and small buildings, go to the lowest level of the building, whether it is the basement or not. If you can’t go to a basement, then go to a nearby closet, bathroom or a hallway that is not close to any windows. Putting yourself closer to the center of the building or putting as many walls between you and the outside as possible is the best idea. Protecting yourself from any flying debris with materials such as blankets, pillows, cushions, sleeping bags and/or mattresses is also a smart thing to do as well.

Now we move onto schools, hospitals, factories and/or shopping malls when it comes to overall tornado safety. In these buildings, going to the designated shelter areas, typically an interior hallway on the lowest floor level. Always stay away from windows and kneel on the floor against the wall and place your hands over your head towards protection from any flying or falling debris are all helpful tips.

Next, we move onto mobile homes, portable classrooms and/or vehicles. Evacuating these structures and going inside a stronger building for shelter is a good tip. If you are not near any shelter of any kind, getting to the nearest ditch or depression is your next smartest bet. Finally, lying flat with your hands shielding your head is another wise idea as well.

The peak Tornado Season in Louisiana is during the months of March through June every year, while the peak month is April in Louisiana. (That according to the National Weather Service). According to the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness office in Louisiana, the peak season occurs from March through May.

Finally, time to discuss Tornado strength, which is based on the enhanced fujita tornado damage scale. EF-0 through EF-5 are the rating categories for tornadoes. The wind speeds are different when it comes to tornadoes compared to hurricanes. For an EF-0 the wind speeds are between 65-85 mph, an EF-1 is between 86-110 mph, meanwhile an EF-2 is between 111-135 mph, an EF-3 is between 136-165 mph, an EF-4 is between 166-200 mph, and finally an EF-5 is 200 or more mph. I won’t get into much of the expected damage for each category but for an EF-0 it is minor damage, an EF-1 it is moderate damage, an EF-2 it is considerable damage, an EF-3 it is severe damage, an EF-4 it is extreme damage and finally for an EF-5 it is massive and incredible damage.

One last thing, it is also important to know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch is when tornadoes are possible in your area/region and remaining weather-alert is key. Meanwhile, a tornado warning means that a tornado has either been sighted or has been indicated by the radar and you should move to a safe place immediately.

The KALB First Alert Storm Team will remain on top of things when it comes to potential severe weather and tornadoes that may impact Central Louisiana throughout the year.