Know your risk!

Tornadoes can strike in any season but occur most often in the spring and summer months. Every state has some risk of this hazard. Learn how to prepare ahead of spring with the How to Prepare for a Tornado Guide. It explains how to protect yourself and details the steps to take now so that you can act quickly. Tornadoes may develop quickly with little, or no warning.

What:
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground and is often—although not always—visible as a funnel cloud. Lightning and hail are common in thunderstorms that produce tornadoes. Tornadoes cause extensive damage to structures and disrupt transportation, power, water, gas, communications, and other services in its direct path and in neighboring areas. Related thunderstorms can cause heavy rains, flash flooding, and hail

Where:
About 1,200 tornadoes hit the United States every year and every state is at risk. Most tornadoes in the United States occur east of the Rocky Mountains with concentrations in the central and southern plains, the Gulf Coast and Florida.

When:
Tornadoes can strike in any season, but occur most often in the spring and summer months. They can occur at all hours of the day and night, but are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Before a Tornado:
-Identify safe rooms built to FEMA criteria or ICC500 storm shelters or other potential protective locations in sturdy buildings near your home, work, and other locations you frequent so you have a plan for where you will go quickly for safety when there is a Warning or an approaching tornado.
-For schools, malls, and other buildings with long-span roofs or open space plans, or many occupants, ask the building manager to identify the best available refuge.
-Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
-Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
-Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms.
-Look for the following danger signs:
-Dark, often greenish sky
-Large hail
-A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
-Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
-If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.