The tornado is the most violent storm on Earth. A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air extending to the ground from a thunderstorm cloud. The path width of a tornado is usually very narrow, but can range up to a half-mile or more in the most extreme cases. Tornadoes usually only last a few minutes, but a few can last for much longer, traveling along the ground for several miles. Tornadoes can remain almost stationary, or can race across the countryside at speeds over 50 mph. Violent winds in and near the tornado can cause incredible destruction, and can generate flying debris, which is the main thing that hurts people in tornadoes.
Keeping informed about the weather is the best way to avoid being caught in a tornado or severe thunderstorm. Your local National Weather Service Forecast Office provides information about dangerous weather in your area, and you should keep a close eye on this information whenever storms threaten your area. A battery operated NOAA Weather Radio with a warning alarm feature should be a part of your information system!
It’s also critical that you think about tornado safety long before there’s a storm on the horizon, and plan what you will do to stay safe no matter where you may be when storms threaten.