Tornadoes, violently rotating columns of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground, are among nature’s most virulent storms. In an average year, 800 tornadoes are reported across the United States,
resulting in 80 deaths and more than 1,500 injuries. The worst tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 miles per hour or more.
Tornadoes can occur anywhere in the U.S. at any time of the year. In the southern states, the peak tornado season is March through May, while peak months in the northern states are during the summer.
Myth: Areas near rivers, lakes, and mountains are safe from tornadoes.
Fact: No place is safe. In the late 1980s, a tornado swept through Yellowstone National Park leaving a path of destruction up and down a 10,000-foot mountain.
Myth: The low pressure in a tornado causes buildings to “explode” as the tornado passes overhead.
Fact: Violent winds exceeding 200 miles per hour and debris slamming into buildings cause most structural damage.
Myth: Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
Fact: Opening windows allows damaging winds to enter the structure and wastes precious time. Leave the windows alone; instead, immediately go to a safe place.