Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornadoes

Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornadoes
Weather Talk

POSTED: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 3:44am

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 3:54am

This week is National Severe Weather Awareness week for Louisiana. Each day a new topic will be featured to help get you prepared for the upcoming Spring severe weather season.  Yesterday we took a closer look at Severe Thunderstorms, today we will take a closer look at Tornadoes.

Tornadoes are one of natures most violent weather events. A tornado is defined as a rapidly rotating column of air which is attached to a thunderstorm and is in contact with the ground. In the most extreme tornadoes wind speeds may exceed 300 miles per hour.  Most tornadoes in Southeast Louisiana are weak and short lived.  However, each year one or two strong tornadoes occur in the area that can produce significant damage over a larger area. The last strong tornado that touched down in Southeast Louisiana was on May 3, 2011 near the community of Bush in northern St Tammany Parish. A strong tornado also occurred on Christmas Day last year in nearby Pearl River County.

In the Southeast United States, including the Gulf Coast states, tornadoes can often occur at night. Unfortunately nocturnal tornadoes have a much greater chance of causing fatalities and injuries as many people are asleep and not monitoring the weather conditions or media to know if warnings have been issued. NOAA weather radios can be a life saving weather monitoring device during the overnight hours. The weather radio can be set in standby mode overnight and will automatically alarm and turn-on if a severe
weather watch or warning is issued.  Should a tornado watch or warning be issued or if threatening weather develops in your area, please follow these safety rules:

If a Tornado Watch is issued for your area this means conditions are favorable for a tornado to form.  Keep up with the latest weather
conditions and have a means to receive timely warning information.

If a Tornado Warning is issued:

1. In homes or small buildings go to a small interior room on the lowest floor, away from windows and doorways.

2. Stay away from windows.  Opening or closing windows will delay your escape to safety and will make no difference to damage caused to your home or building.

3. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car.  Instead leave your car immediately and seek shelter in a well constructed building.

4. If caught outside, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression.

5. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned for well constructed buildings.

Throughout severe weather awareness week the National Weather Service will issue public information statements on severe weather safety. This morning between 9:00am and 9:30 am, the National Weather Service will issue a test tornado warning on the NOAA weather radio system to allow organizations to test their severe weather plans and ensure their NOAA weather radios are working properly. The test message will be clearly worded as a test and use the routine weekly test message code.

You can always stay current with the weather around the area by "liking" Meteorologist Jesse Vinturella on Facebook, or follow on Twitter @JesseWeather.

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