We continue Severe Weather Awareness Week with a look at tornadoes and tornado safety. Tornadoes can be a threat here in Colorado, especially the further east you go. 95% of Colorado tornadoes occur along and east of I-25 because we tend to have more available heat and moisture to fuel storms.
The tornado threat is highest here from May to August when we have more moisture and heat to work with.
Tornadoes typically form in the afternoon and early evening hours, around 1 pm to 8 pm.
Countrywide, about 90% of tornadoes are considered “weak” with winds less than 110 mph. Violent tornadoes with winds over 165 mph cause nearly 70% of all tornado fatalities.
If there is a tornado warning, you want to seek shelter inside a sturdy building, be as low as you can be, and cover your head. The best options are basements, safe rooms, or storm shelter. Other options could include small interior rooms on the lowest floor without windows like closets or bathrooms. Cover yourself with blankets or get under sturdy furniture to protect from debris or structural issues. Protect your head with heavy books or helmets.
Mobile homes don’t offer much protection from a tornado. About 50% of tornado fatalities occur when seeking shelter in a mobile home. It’s a good idea to seek shelter in a sturdy structure whether that’s the home of a friend or relative, or even a community shelter or local building. Have that plan in place ahead of time if you do live in a mobile home.
If you’re ever driving during a tornado you shouldn’t try to outrun a tornado. They can move at up to 60 mph and change direction without warning. If there’s enough time you’ll want to drive away from the tornado. It’s not a good idea to shelter beneath overpasses.
If you’re ever stuck outside during a tornado situation you want to pull over in a low area and either stay seat belted and ducked down in your car or lie flat in a ditch or culvert. Protecting your head is still very important. These are last resorts- you want to get inside if at all possible.
So know where you would go for a tornado warning and have a plan in place now, before those storms fire up over the next few months.