Tornadoes can occur anywhere in the ArkLaMiss at any time during the year so, it is important to know how to stay safe. A tornado is a rotating column of air that protrudes from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornadoes are one of the most destructive forces on this planet, capable of destroying well-built structures, uprooting trees, and lofting objects well into the air.

Here are some tips to make sure you are tornado ready:

  • Locate your safe space in your home or place of work, where members of your household, pets included, or coworkers will relocate to during the entirety of the event. A safe space is considered to be on the lowest level in the centermost area, away from windows.
  • If you are in a multi-story building, locate a hallway in the centermost area away from any windows as you may not have enough time to get to the lowest level of the building.
  • In a vehicle, if possible drive out of its path as quickly as possible. If you can’t, seek shelter immediately in a sturdy building. In the worst possible scenario that you have to stay in your vehicle, keep your seatbelt on, park your car, put your head down, and cover it with your arms or a jacket/blanket/covering. Do not seek shelter under bridges and overpasses.
  • If you are in the outdoors without shelter available, lie in a low-lying area, like a ditch, face down, and cover your head with your hands. Make sure you are not in the path of trees, vehicles, or other possible large debris.

What is the difference between a watch and a warning?

Tornado Watch Tornado Warning
– A tornado is possible in your area.
– Prepare to relocate to your safe space.
-This is issued a few hours in advance of severe weather events.
– A tornado has been reported or spotted on the ground, it can also be radar indicated.
– Take shelter immediately.
-This would be on a smaller scale for your immediate area.

Knowing the signs of a tornado:

  1. Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
  2. Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base — tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
  3. Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.
  4. Day or night – Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder.
  5. Night – Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
  6. Night – Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning, especially if it is visually in ground contact or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.


The following image is how meteorologists rate tornadoes, tornadoes are always rated after they occur during the surveying period:

The Enhanced Fujita Scale

Source: National Weather Service, Shreveport, LA

What to do after a tornado occurs:

  • Avoid downed powerlines/telephone poles and puddles with wires in them.
  • Keep account of everyone that is with you and wait for emergency personnel to arrive to assist you.
  • Avoid broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects as you pass through debris.
  • Get out of heavily damaged buildings, they could easily collapse.
  • Refrain from using matches or lighters, there could be a natural gas leak that you’re unaware of.