Flying cows may be the stuff of Hollywood movies, but there's no question that tornadoes can leave catastrophic destruction in their wakes. The Midwest is a hotbed of tornado activity, with Ohio averaging nearly 20 per year since the beginning of the new millennium.
As we enter peak tornado season, which runs from April through July, it's a good time to share some facts and safety tips about this weather phenomenon.
What Causes Tornadoes?
Tornadoes are the offspring of violent thunderstorms, when warm, humid air in the lower atmosphere and cooler temperatures in the upper atmosphere collide and create instability. Mother Nature Network likens it to "finishing a drink with a straw," where the tornado acts to suck up every last bit of humidity to fuel the storm.
Thunderstorms accompanied by heavy rain and/or large hail are indicators that conditions are right for a tornado. The strongest tornadoes have been measured at wind speeds of 250 mph and up, and while they generally travel from the southwest to northeast, they can and do move in any direction.
Watches and Warnings
Tornado alerts take two different forms.
A watch indicates that tornado conditions exist, but none have occurred yet. When you hear a tornado watch, be sure to monitor the weather reports and prepare for a storm.
A warning is issued when a tornado is imminent and meets the criteria established by the National Weather Service.
Tornado Warning? DUCK!
Once a tornado warning is issued, the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness recommends that you DUCK:
Go DOWN to the lowest level
Get UNDER something
COVER your upper body
KEEP sheltered until receiving an "all clear"
Preparing for a Tornado
Tornadoes should not be "out of sight, out of mind." Assemble an emergency kit (including a weather radio with alternate power sources) and develop a tornado action plan for yourself and others living in your Springs Cincinnati luxury apartment home.
If you can't get to a lower level, stay inside a closet or small inner room away from windows.
When you're away from home, be aware of your surroundings and possible shelter areas. Avoid large structures such as auditoriums or shopping malls with lots of glass and wide-span roofs.
If you're driving, pull over and park. Keep your seatbelt on and duck below window level, using your arms to protect your head. Another option is to leave your car and lie down in a ditch or depression.