According to Secrets of Survival:
The greatest and most frequent tornado occurrences happen in the United States. Tornadoes canin fact form in any state, but they occur most frequently in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas.
These states are referred to as "Tornado Alley" and if you reside within, you better be prepared for the worst that nature can hit you with.
There's a few good articles on the web about tornado safety and survival. You should check them all out, before it's too late!
VOONT has a good article on surviving twisters, written by Martin "The Baron" Hubley. You'll learn about the signs of a tornado and the different types, along with some common twister myths debunked. Also, there's a section for securing your trailer home.
Summer is just around the bend for many of us, and with the warm weather comes the threat of deadly tornados. These twisting destructive devils of the seventh seas can level your dream home, fling your cozy trailer-shack into the air, or even kill your precious poodle Jumjugs with merely a flick of their godless wind-wrist.
The twistler is nature's marvel. It is to be feared, and it is to be respected. Luckily your old pal (and self-taught meteorologist) The Baron is here to help you make it through an encounter with these terrifying death tubes. Read on for 10 of my juiciest 'nader survival tips. They'll really "blow" your mind!
Secrets of Survival has a very informative article by Cliff Montgomery on tornadoes, where you'll learn a bunch of tornado facts, the elements of the Fujita - Pearson (FPP) Tornado Scale and how to protect yourself before, during and after a twister hits.
At their greatest strength, twisters can approach speeds of 320 miles per hour - enough power to level the best-constructed brick walls, rip large homes from their foundations and up into the air, and throw tractor-trailers a distance of about 300 feet.
Secrets of Survival will help you learn about the atmospheric events that signal the possibility of a tornado, and what safety measures you can take to survive if a twister hits.
The National Weather Service defines a tornado as "a violently rotating column of air pendant from a thunderstorm cloud and touching the ground."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a longer but much clearer definition:
A tornado is a violent windstorm characterized by a twisting, funnel-shaped cloud. It is spawned by a thunderstorm (or sometimes as a result of a hurricane) and produced when cool air overrides a layer of warm air, forcing the warm air to rise rapidly. The damage from a tornado is a result of the high wind velocity and wind-blown debris. Tornado season is generally March through August, although tornadoes can occur at any time of year. They tend to occur in the afternoons and evenings: over 80 percent of all tornadoes strike between noon and midnight.
Each year, about 100,000 thunderstorms form over the United States. Between 600 and 1,000 of those thunderstorms will give birth to tornadoes.
Some may also remember the now famous quote from the film 'Twister', when a character asked a group of meteorologists following a series of tornadoes - "storm chasers" - how they would define the strongest twisters. After a moment of silence, one of them replies with a depth of feeling approaching awe that such an event is "the finger of God."
That's a high statement. But there's something about the greatest tornadoes that makes the highness hard to dismiss.
Who would know better about tornado safety and preparation than FEMA? Available from their website is FEMA 320. It's called "Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building a Safe Room For Your Home or Small Business" and is the most helpful article on this page. You can learn to build your own DIY safe rooms, either (1) in the basement, (2) on the primary level, (3) in the ground or below-grade, and (4) as multi-purpose safe rooms.
Having a safe room in your home or small business can help provide "near-absolute protection" for you and your family or your employees from injury or death caused by the dangerous forces of extreme winds. Near-absolute protection means that, based on our current knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes, there is a very high probability that the occupants of a safe room built according to this guidance will avoid injury or death. A safe room can also relieve some of the anxiety created by the threat of an incoming tornado or hurricane. Our knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes and their effects is based on substantial meteorological records as well as extensive investigation of damage to buildings from extreme winds. All information contained in this publication is applicable to safe rooms for use in homes as well as in small businesses.
This publication will help you decide how best to provide near-absolute protection for yourself, your family, or employees and answers many questions concerning safe rooms. It includes the results of research that has been underway for more than 30 years, by Texas Tech University's Wind Science and Engineering (WISE; formerly known as the Wind Engineering Research Center or WERC) and other wind engineering research facilities, on the effects of extreme winds on buildings.
FEMA 320 also provides safe room designs that will show you and your builder/contractor how to construct a safe room for your home or small business. Design options include safe rooms located in the basement, in the garage, or in an interior room of a new home or small business building. Other options also provide guidance on how to construct an exterior safe room, either buried underground or attached to the existing building, or how to modify an existing home or small business building to add a safe room inside. These safe rooms are designed to provide near-absolute protection for you, your family, or employees from the extreme winds expected during tornadoes and hurricanes and from flying debris that tornadoes and hurricanes usually generate.
You can get these publications and plans here:
- Download the entire FEMA 320 document (PDF)
- FEMA 320 broken down into individual chapters
- All the safe room construction plans and specifications
Here are some articles and videos found on WonderHowTo about tornado safety and survival, including one on preparing a survival kit.
Here are some some quick links to some further help on tornadoes that you might find useful.
- The Online Tornado FAQ — This is by Roger Edwards of the Storm Prediction Center, and includes sections on tornado basics, forecasting, damage, safety, history, climatology, spotting and chasing, research and scientific references.
- How to Survive a Tornado by Michael Martin — This 32-page children's book gives all the details for surviving twisters in a kid-friendly manner.
- Survival Goods — Just some quick tips on tornado survival.
- How to Survive — More tips for surviving a deadly tornado.
- Survival Zone on Discovery — A really quick tips for staying safe in a tornado, with a downloadable PDF.
- Tornado: Accounts of Tornadoes in Iowa — A quick summary of safety rules and guidelines from the book by John L. Stanford.
- Tornado Project — A site devoted to tornado information and awareness.
- National Severe Storms Laboratory (NOAA) — This is an article (which you can download in PDF) that is adapted from: A PREPAREDNESS GUIDE for Schools by the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service. The full version can be found here.