Tornado: Seek Shelter Immediately

tornadoIt’s that time of year again. Now that winter is totally and completely over, even in the snowy mountains of Utah, we’re not so worried about the weather anymore. Unless you’re planning an outdoor wedding or some other event that wouldn’t be much fun in the rain, you may not even be paying too much attention to your local TV weather reports.

I know I barely even notice what the temperature is on my morning walk. Spring is just so mild, we’re in danger of becoming almost complacent about what lurks behind those clouds.

Unless you live in or near Tornado Alley. The Midwestern hot zone has already had its share of deadly spring storms, which can become even stronger over the summer. Those who live in the danger zone have been watching the Weather Channel closely, waiting for the next Tornado Watch or Severe Thunderstorm Warning for their county. It can get tiresome always checking the sky, having to decide if running out to the grocery store would be a bad idea or not. And how many nights have I left the TV on in my bedroom, wishing I had a basement and hoping I hear the siren if it goes off while my family sleeps. And still knowing that all the precautions in the world can’t stop a tornado from hitting my house if it really wants to.

Living on the edge means the sirens are tested weekly, and we may get up to a dozen tornado watches and warnings over the course of an entire season, maybe even a “sighting” nearby. But without an actual touchdown, without any concrete damage reports, we’re likely to fall into complacency. I don’t have a basement to run to when the siren goes off, but I know people who do, and who don’t use them.

If you’ve never actually seen a tornado, never looked up and saw the sky swirling right above you, never been knocked down by hail the size of golf balls (ouch!), it’s easy to think a tornado will never hit your neighborhood. But they can hit anywhere, and often without any warning.

Some years ago, while I was attending college in central New York, a tornado struck our lakeside environmental campus, a mere ten miles from the main campus. On a clear, sunny day it cut a narrow swath through the forest, taking out an uninhabited cabin in its path toward the lake. With absolutely no warning, none of the pre-conditions we have come to expect, it was sheer luck that no students living or visiting the other cabins were injured.

So what was a tornado doing in central New York? I’m sure that’s how folks down south feel when they get one of their nasty ice storms. It’s not supposed to happen here!

But the most unpredictable of all storms, and therefore, potentially the most deadly, is the tornado. So when we are fortunate enough to receive those warnings, we really ought to heed them. Many years of often dangerous research, and many lives have been lost, in the quest to predict the most unpredictable of storms.

When you hear the warning siren, or the emergency beep beep on your television warning of an approaching storm, take shelter. Teach your children proper emergency preparedness. FEMA has a wealth of information geared toward educating kids about tornado safety at You can also watch a brief video about tornado safety at the Weather Channel’s web site . And for a detailed safety page, check out the Tornado Project at .

When the storm clouds are gathering, seek shelter immediately. Because a tornado can happen anywhere, from the mountains in New York, to downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, from the small towns in southern Illinois, to the Florida Everglades.

Patti Hermes

Patti Hermes, Parent to Parent, is living the dream with her high school sweetheart, raising their boys in the Midwest because it's a good starting point for epic road trips. While writing, reading and homeschooling take up most of her time, she still blogs at HermesParent to ParentParentingTornado: Seek Shelter Immediately by Patti Hermes It's that time of year again. Now that winter is totally and completely over, even in the snowy mountains of Utah, we're not so worried about the weather anymore. Unless you're planning an outdoor wedding or some other event that wouldn't be much...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids