Tornado Alley

At around 11:30 p.m. last night my Red Cross application sounded its siren and notified us that we had a tornado warning. This was not incredibly surprising news because my Red Cross app had already been chiming its fool head off about severe thunderstorm warnings since 10:00 p.m. Approximately 15 seconds later the tornado siren in our county sounded. We already had Blue, my medication bin, our MacBooks and we were downstairs. Hey, priorities right?


As we were laying in the relative safety of the basement I had to wonder however just how safe we really were if a tornado actually did happen to swirl right over our neighborhood. Was lounging in the middle of the room, browsing the internet while our house was being destroyed on top of our heads going to cut it? As I clicked over to the local weather guy and he proclaimed that “folks in our area needed to take shelter immediately”, I decided that it’s a possibility that I need to look into this tornado situation a little further before something terrible happens and we are not prepared.


For some reason I always envisioned a basement as a tornado fortress that cannot be touched. Growing up, going into the basement was a only a suggestion, which made me super duper uncomfortable. At our lake house in the summer we didn’t even have a basement, which means when tornados would strike we would watch the weather to see which direction the storm was heading. Thankfully, our direction was never tapped in to Garmin. We watched a lot of storms pass by, but never any tornados.

So, will our basement just protect us because we’re downstairs? Apparently not. The Weather Channel does a good job explaining where exactly we should be during a tornado.

The Weather Channel also reviews what everyone should do if they are driving. I’ll give you a hint on this video in case you cannot watch it, please don’t climb up under an overpass, they are the most dangerous places to be during a tornado.

Now that we are all safe in the interior rooms of our basement or in a ditch with our heads covered I got to thinking about my medication bin. I need to grab my bin because I cannot go 12 hours without my medications, but are there other things we should have stored in the basement? Am I losing control on this tornado safety? It turns out I am running willy nilly into the the basement unprepared. Again, I turn it over the the Weather Channel for a look at what we should all have in our safety kit.

As I have a lot of work to do to get our tornado area ready before the next batch of severe weather hits in 8 hours, I’m going to leave you with these facts on how to tell if a tornado is actually approaching. These tips come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA. Besides Wunderground, NOAA is where I get all of my weather information. This is what people say they see and hear before a tornado approaches their home:

  • Dark, often greenish sky. Sometimes one or more of the clouds turns greenish (a phenomenon caused by hail) indicating a tornado may develop.
  • Wall cloud, an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm. The wall cloud is particularly suspect if it is rotating.
  • Large hail. Tornadoes are spawned from powerful thunderstorms and the most powerful thunderstorms produce large hail. Tornadoes frequently emerge from near the hail-producing portion of the storm.
  • Cloud of debris. An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible.
  • Funnel cloud. A visible rotating extension of the cloud base is a sign that a tornado may develop.
  • Roaring noise. The high winds of a tornado can cause a roar that is often compared with the sound of a freight train.
  • Tornadoes may occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm and be quite visible. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado. They may also be embedded in rain and not visible at all.

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