Storm WatchStorm Watch

More on tornadoes:

Tornado photos

Victims of the wind

Insurance 101

If you are told
to evacuate

Emergency checklist

Older mobile homes most vulnerable during storms

Weather Links


Photo Times files
Four of six waterspouts clustered over a three-mile area in lower Tampa Bay on June 26, 1964. The time was between 6:15 and 6:45.
Are you ready for a tornado?

The Tampa Bay area has its share of tornandoes every year. Here are some suggestions to prepare you for such an emergency.

Prepare a home tornado plan

Pick a place where family members could gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.

If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

Disaster supplies kit

  • First aid kit and essential medications.
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Canned food and can opener.
  • Bottled water (at least one gallon of water per person per day to last at least 3 days).
  • Sturdy shoes and work gloves.
  • Written instructions on how to turn off your home's utilities.
  • Conduct periodic tornado drills, so everyone remembers what to do when a tornado approaches.

Stay tuned for storm warnings

Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.

Know what a tornado WATCH and WARNING means:

  • A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area.
  • A tornado WARNING means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area. Go to safety immediately.

Tornado WATCHES and WARNINGS are issued by county or parish.

When a tornado WATCH is issued:

  • Listen to local radio and TV stations for further updates.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions. Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you. Many people say it sounds like a freight train.

When a tornado WARNING is issued:

  • If you are inside, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. The tornado may be approaching your area.
  • If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area.
  • If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety ( as above).

After the tornado passes

Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of the damaged area.

Listen to the radio for information and instructions.

Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage.

Do not use candles at any time.

Common tornado myths

Leave the windows alone when a tornado may be coming. It's a myth that tornadoes cause houses to explode due to changes in air pressure.

Anywhere in a low place in the home is safe. The southwest corner of the basement is just as safe as any other corner, or middle, of the basement. The best place to be is away from all windows.

Tornadoes can happen anywhere, including California and other states in the continental U.S. Tornadoes don't just happen in "Tornado Alley".

Tornadoes cause a lot of debris to be blown around and you can be hurt by this debris. Getting under a highway overpass is NOT safe.

Tornadoes do not "suck" houses, cars, cows, or people up into the funnel. Their strong winds, however, can blow large objects, including cars, hundreds of feet away.

Source: American Red Cross

water spout

Times photo by SCOTT KEELER
A water spout touches down on the Gulf of Mexico just west of Clearwater Beach during a severe thunderstom that moved across Pinellas County.

© Copyright 1998 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.