MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It goes without saying that we're all on edge with l2011's tornado season still fresh on our minds. The 62 tornadoes that touched down on April 27th claimed 252 lives in Alabama last year. This tacks onto both the tornado and fatality tallies from an unprecedented April 15th round of tornadoes. We are focused on never allowing this to happen again, and the first step is education.
While tornadoes can happen in Alabama any time of the year, they are most comment during two seasons. The main window opens in March and closes at the end May. The second window lasts about 6 weeks in November and December. Unfortunately, tornados don't follow our calendars so we need to be prepared all year round.
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air in contact with the ground. These twisters can reach wind speeds of greater than 200mph and are classified using the enhanced Fujita scale as seen on the right. Tornadoes can destroy objects that took years to build in seconds. They can also take a life just as quickly. Here are some tips to give you a fighting chance against the dangers of a tornado.
-This year, we are urging you to gather any helmet you have in your home and put it in your safe place; one for each member of your family. A UAB study suggests that a many tornado deaths are caused by blunt head injury, and some could be prevented with the protection of a helmet. Any will do, preferably with straps (football, bicycle, motorcycle).
-If you have a storm shelter, use it the moment a warning is issued for your area.
-Go to your basement or lowest floor of your home or office if a tornado warning is issued.
-Once on the lowest floor, go into an interior room as centrally located as possible to put as many doors and windows between you and the tornado as possible.
-If you live in a mobile home, before a tornado warning is issued, make plans to go to a sturdy, site build home, office, or a storm shelter. If you do not have time, evacuate your home and find shelter. Mobile homes can roll or be picked up off the foundation.
-If outside, find any shelter possible nearby. Otherwise, find a ditch and protect your head. DO NOT seek shelter under a roadway overpass, this is much more dangerous!
-If you're driving, do not try to outrun the tornado, pull over your vehicle and find shelter.
Don't search for information to confirm a tornado is coming: if a warning is issued, take shelter. Do NOT rely on tornado sirens to receive information. These are only for outdoor use. Here's a reminder of the difference between watches and warnings:
A WATCH is issued when severe weather is possible in a given area. A WARNING is issued when a severe storm is occurring or imminent in an area. Here's a way to remember the difference. A watch is like a yellow traffic light; you should use caution and prepare to take action. A warning is like a red traffic light, which means you should stop or take action immediately!
We're available 24/7 online right here at wsfa.com/weather. Like our page WSFA Weather of Facebook and follow us on Twitter @wsfa12weather for the latest automated updates and discussions. Have a NOAA Weather Radio programmed with fresh batteries when severe weather is near. This is a great tool to wake your family if you are sleeping. You can also text your county name to 41212 to receive severe weather text alerts.