While we dig out from this latest snowstorm, it is hard to believe that in March of 2012 many were cleaning up debris from a severe weather outbreak that produced large hail, wind damage and spawned tornadoes. The tiny town of Moscow, Ohio was leveled by an EF3 tornado that the National Weather Service (NWS) reports to have been 20 miles in length and a quarter mile in width.
During recent NWS weather spotter training, I learned that there are many cloud formations that imitate the shape of a tornado that are actually nothing more than benign clouds. Tornadoes generally have a large, rounded rain-free base indicating a mesocyclone. There are rapid vertical motions rising into the wall cloud, and the rear-flank downdraft along with a burst of heavy rain/hail just west or southwest of the cloud indicates a tornado. There are so many different types and styles of tornadoes that it is too much to consider here. Undoubtedly, at 9:50 a.m. this morning you heard tornado sirens as a part of the State wide tornado drill. But did you pause and think about how to prepare well in case of a tornado? Here are some tips:
- Plan your response to a tornado watch (conditions are favorable) or warning (a tornado has been spotted either by Doppler radar or a trained weather spotter on the ground.)
- Purchase a NOAA approved weather alert radio, these days local Target, Walmart and Dick's sporting goods retailers sell such items at a reasonable price.
- Find and designate a tornado shelter in your home (the lowest level of your home and if no basement is available an interior room without windows.)
- If you live in a mobile home or are in a recreational vehicle or other unsound structure, designate a tornado shelter nearby (did you pass a gas station, park ranger station, or another sturdy unmovable structure?) It is always a good idea to take note of such locations when traveling.
- If you are traveling and storms are likely en route listen to the forecast for the city you are traveling to and departing from.
As a member of the Franklin County Emergency Management siren watch team and emergency response team, my hope is that these tips will keep you and your family safe during severe weather. Until next time – good health to you!