Hello, my name is Matt Hemingway and I’m a Meteorologist with the National Weather
Service in Shreveport. Today’s topic for Severe Weather Awareness Week is Tornadoes
and Tornado Safety. Tornadoes are one of nature’s most violent
storms. In an average year, about 1000 tornadoes are reported across the United States, resulting
in an average of 85 deaths and over 1500 injuries. A tornado is a violently rotating column of
air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. The most violent tornadoes are capable of
tremendous destruction, with wind speeds of 250 mph or more. Damage paths can exceed a
mile in width and 50 miles in length. Tornadoes can occur anywhere in the state
of Louisiana, and at any time of the year. However, peak tornado season is during the
months of March through June, with nearly 70 percent of all tornadoes occurring during
this time period. April is the single most active tornado producing month in our region.
Tornadoes can travel at over 50 mph, and can destroy a building in a few seconds. Therefore,
it is important to know the safety rules for surviving a tornado.
When inside homes and small buildings, you should go to the basement or the lowest level
of the building. If no basement is available, go to a closet, bathroom or an interior hallway
away from any windows. Protect yourself from flying debris with thick blankets, pillows,
cushions, sleeping bags or mattresses. At schools, hospitals, factories or shopping
malls, go to the designated shelter areas, usually an interior hallway on the lowest
floor level. Always stay away from windows. Kneel on the floor against the wall and place
hands over your head to provide some protection for your head.
When in mobile homes or portable buildings, leave these structures and go inside a strong
building for shelter. If there is no shelter nearby, get into the nearest ditch or depression.
Lie flat with your hands shielding your head. Planning ahead and knowing the safety rules
is essential in being prepared when a tornado strikes.
Stay with us as we continue Louisiana Severe Weather Awareness Week on Thursday, February
21st when we will focus on Lightning Safety. MSWordDocWord.Document.8�9�q