Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornadoes

Where To Take Shelter

It's already day 3 of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Nebraska and Iowa! Today's focus is on tornadoes and knowing where to take shelter if one hits your city. Wednesday morning, both Nebraska and Iowa held statewide tornado drills, with kids and teachers at schools reviewing where to go during a tornado warning. Let's talk about finding the best place to shelter at home now.

Usually, your basement will be the best place to shelter, but not everyone has one. If not, start by going to the lowest level of your home. Then, move towards the center of the home, putting as many walls between you and the storm as possible. This will hopefully provide more layers of protection from the storm or tornado. When choosing a central room, avoid windows and glass as much as possible. Make sure to have blankets, pillows, and bike helmets in or near your safe room as well. Use them to cover yourselves in case your home is damaged.

Now is the time to review which room works best as a shelter in your house with your family since we are still early in severe weather season. March averages less than 2 tornadoes in Nebraska each year, and April is just slightly higher with about 4 each year in the state. Tornadoes become more likely in May and June, with an average of 15 and 18 tornadoes per month respectively. As we head into summer, tornadoes become less common. July averages 6 tornadoes each year.

Like most weather events, there are strong tornadoes and there are weaker tornadoes. All are dangerous! Since it's really hard to measure the winds inside a tornado, meteorologists and engineers look at the damage left behind by a tornado to determine how strong it was. The Enhanced Fujita Scale, or EF-Scale, is used to rate tornadoes, starting at EF-0 and working up to EF-5 at the strong end.

The tornado which hit Bellevue in June of 2017 was rated as EF-2 with max winds estimated to be near 135mph. Another tornado that day hit Offutt AFB, which was rated an EF-1 with winds estimated to be near 110mph.

Severe Weather Awareness Week continues Thursday with everything you need to know about lightning!

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