For millions of people in the central United States, tornado warnings are issued on a regular basis and everyone keeps an ear open for them; however, if you live elsewhere, you probably don't think much about the possibility of a tornado touching down near your home. But the reality is, Ontario for example, is part of the notorious tornado alley as well. So whether you're sitting in your condo or going to a conference, you should know how to listen for and respond to tornado warnings.
In tornado alley, which stretches from Texas up through Ontario and represents the area where cold mountain air meets warmer coastal air, the listening begins on gloomy days. Often the NSSL (National Severe Storms Laboratory) will have been watching for days as systems of cold and warm air approach, so on the day when they are meant to clash, everyone will know to keep their radios or TVs on, whether they're in their homes or at work. When the air systems clash and unleash thunderstorms, this is when tornadoes are possible, so if you see dark clouds, keep an ear open.
Tornadoes form and dissipate very quickly - often in less than half an hour - and their paths are very erratic, so little warning is possible for people who live in a tornado's path. Meteorologists with Doppler radar can see the distinctive swirling currents on their screens and issue a tornado warning for the surrounding area. After that, they must rely on storm chasers who are on the ground to visually spot and report tornadoes and where they are heading. When a tornado is spotted, a tornado alert is issued.
For people who live in the area, a tornado warning is merely a sign to keep your eyes open. These people have finely honed instincts and can often tell from the feel of the air whether a tornado is approaching, so many still go about their day despite warnings. It is only once an alert is issued that they take shelter. For a person unfamiliar with tornadoes, when a warning is issued it is always a good idea to seek shelter or at least find out where it is in case you need it shortly. Sometimes a warning is all you get if no one spots the tornado before it hits.
When a tornado warning is issued, take action immediately as you may have only seconds to take shelter. Drop everything and seek a windowless room, preferably underground or in the interior of a building, such as a basement, stairwell or bathroom. In some areas underground shelters are available. If you are in the car, stop driving and get out immediately. If no shelters are available, lie in a ditch. Remember: the biggest danger is from flying debris.
This message is brought to you by Abba Parts, manufacturers of replacement pumps, parts & assemblies for municipal water & wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations.