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Tornado Safety

Tips to Stay Safe During New England’s Peak Tornado Season

Lightning striking the groundAccording to a meteorologist from the National Weather Center, there were 500 eyewitness reports of tornadoes made in the 30 days between April 27 and May 27 in the US, mostly in the midwest. Tornadoes in New England are relatively rare. However, these deadly and destructive storms do occur; on average, about eight tornadoes are reported in the region each year. For example, on June 1, we marked the 8th anniversary of the deadly and damaging tornado that tore through Hampden County, including Springfield. Also, February 25 marked the 2nd anniversary of the devastating Conway tornado. Almost 200 people have been killed by tornadoes in New England, and two of the ten most destructive tornadoes in US history happened here. Additionally, research shows that the frequency of severe weather events is increasing due to climate change, so it’s smart to be prepared.

When the summer months arrive, it’s time to tune in to the local weather forecasts to be aware of potential severe weather risks. Peak tornado activity in New England occurs during the summer months of June, July and August. Tornadoes typically strike between 3 and 9 pm local time.

When the risk for a tornado is present, the National Weather Service will alert the public through television, radio, and the internet. The first alert will be a Tornado Watch, which means tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states. When a Tornado Watch is issued, review and discuss your emergency plans with the people you are with, check supplies (such as a disaster preparedness kit), and discuss where you will go in case of a tornado.

If a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar, the Storm Prediction Center’s local forecast office will issue a Tornado Warning. When this happens, there is imminent danger to life and property. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a tornado identified by a forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement who is watching the storm.

“When the summer months arrive, it’s time to tune in to the local weather forecasts to be aware of potential severe weather risks.”

Practicing tornado safety during a Tornado Warning involves following three basic rules according to the National Weather Service:

  1. Get in. If you are outside, find a sturdy shelter. Put as many walls between you and outside as possible.
  2. Get down. Go to the lowest floor of the building. If possible, use an underground shelter or basement.
  3. Cover up. Get under a sturdy table or stairwell. Cover up with blankets and pillows.

As we enjoy all the summer has to offer, remember to prepare yourself for the risk of dangerous storms.