Tornadoes are one of nature’s most violent storms. They are common in Texas, especially during the spring. Learn how to protect yourself before, during and after a tornado strikes.

What is a tornado?

A tornado is a rotating funnel-shaped cloud that drops out of a storm cloud to the ground. Whirling winds range from 75 miles an hour to 300 miles an hour. Tornadoes can measure one mile in width and travel for 50 miles, often changing direction erratically.

Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable, but even sturdy, brick buildings on concrete slabs are in danger. The power of tornadoes can be great enough to hurl objects as large as cars over long distances, resulting in extreme damage.

Each year tornadoes are responsible for about 70 deaths and 1,500 injuries nationwide. To learn more about tornadoes, go to NOAA’s Tornado FAQ

How do I prepare for a tornado before it strikes?

Find out about public warning systems in your area. Most communities at risk from tornadoes use sirens to warn their residents. Understand the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A watch means that the formation of tornadoes is possible. A warning means that one has been sighted or detected by radar; seek shelter now.

How do I protect myself and my family during tornado threats?

When severe weather is approaching, you may not be able to see funnel clouds, so learn how to look for other weather conditions that may indicate tornadic activity:

If you see any of these signs, go to your shelter immediately and tune in to local radio, television or get information about NOAA Weather Radio. Help alert others by reporting tornado sightings to the media.

How do I stay safe after a tornado?

Once a tornado has passed, the danger is not over. In fact, half of all tornado-related injuries occur following the storm. Before you leave your shelter, look outside and assess potential hazards. While inspecting damage, cleaning up and living without power, take the following precautions:

SOURCE: Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)