Severe Weather Awareness Week 2010 – Tornadoes

This is post #4 in a series published for Severe Weather Awareness Week 2010. Today’s post focuses on tornadoes.

…Tornado Awareness Day…

In 2009, 39 Tennessee counties were affected by tornadoes, with two fatalities and 62 injuries reported. Total damage estimates for the year exceeded $100 million. Most residents of the Mid-South will remember the July 30th storms that dropped two tornadoes in the metro area, including an EF-1 that struck Cordova near Wolfchase Galleria and an EF-2 that hit parts of Olive Branch.

Your safety depends on being constantly alert to the possibility of tornadoes from the thunderstorms that approach you. This is especially true during tornado watches. A careful lookout should be kept during any period of severe weather activity. Plan in advance where you will go and what you will do if a tornado threatens you.

Remember…a Tornado Watch means that tornado development is possible… so watch the sky for developing thunderstorms and all the hazards they bring. Stay tuned to weather radio… commercial radio or television for weather statements or warnings.

A Tornado Warning…usually issued for 1 or 2 counties at a time… means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Persons in the path of the storm need to immediately find shelter… preferably in a sturdy building (below ground if possible).

Here are some tornado safety rules:

In homes or small buildings… go to the basement or storm shelter or to an interior room such as a closet or bathroom on the lowest level. Get under something sturdy… such as a heavy table or a bed.

In mobile homes and vehicles… abandon them and go to a storm shelter or sturdy structure. If there is no such structure nearby… lie flat in a ditch ravine… gully… culvert… or a low spot with your arms and hands shielding your head.

In large buildings such as schools… factories… hospitals… nursing homes… and shopping centers… go to the predesignated shelter area. Interior hallways on the lowest floor are usually best. Stay away from rooms that are large in area because they have weakly supported roofs.

In all cases… stay away from windows.

This morning… between 9am and 9:30am… a regional Tornado Drill will be conducted. NOAA Weather Radio tones will sound and the Emergency Alert System will be activated. Many schools… businesses… and other venues with tornado preparedness plans will exercise those plans. Now is a good time to review your personal preparedness plan. Where will you go and what will you do should a tornado threaten you while at work… school… or home? provides the latest severe weather information for the Memphis metropolitan area. This includes all watches and warnings, an interactive severe weather map of the Mid-South, and free delivery of severe weather alerts for the metro area via e-mail and Twitter. Find these services under the “Severe” menu on

Most of this post’s content courtesy of the National Weather Service.
Photo of Murfreesboro Tornado taken by Titus Bartos,

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