Nick's Blog: Tornadoes discussed on day three of preparedness week

Nick's Blog: Tornadoes discussed on day three of preparedness week
(Photo source: WDAM First Alert Weather Team)

PINE BELT (WDAM) - So, it is Day Three of Fall Severe Weather Preparedness Week. We've discussed getting warnings and about what a severe thunderstorm is - and why it is so important to care. Today we're talking tornadoes.

A tornado is a rapidly rising and rotating column of air within a thunderstorm that is in constant contact with the ground. Winds are usually between 60 and 200 miles per hour and they can move in any direction at any speed. Some are even nearly stationary.

Tornadoes come in many shapes and sizes and can form in under 20 seconds, and intensify even quicker.

Tornadoes are the most feared form of severe weather by more than half of people polled by accuweather in 2014. On that same poll, less than one percent feared severe thunderstorms.

As we settle into Fall, November is the third most active month for tornadoes in the state. Since 2000, there have been 100 tornadoes across Mississippi in the month of November. Seventy-eight in December.

In fact, while Irving Berlin might dream of a White Christmas, in Mississippi we dream of a tornado-free Christmas. Two of the last three years have featured the threat for tornadoes during the week of Christmas. I think we all remember the EF-3 in Columbia in 2014.

That EF scale measures the amount of damage a tornado causes - not wind speed directly. And is broken down from zero to five.

An EF-0 is the weakest tornado. It is estimated to have wind to 85 miles per hour. These tornadoes will uproot trees and damaging gutters or siding. An E-F-5 is the strongest. It has wind estimated over 200 miles per hour and will level houses and even pull concrete and pavement off the ground.

If a Tornado Warning is issued for your area - get to safety immediately. Get inside a sturdy, well-built structure - not a mobile home. Get on the lowest floor and in an interior room such as a hall, closet or bathroom and make sure it doesn't have any windows.

Use something to protect your head such as a helmet, blankets or mattress.

If you are in a car, there is no one best answer.. But try to find a well-built structure as soon as possible. If you can't find one, use your best judgement to protect yourself. This may include getting into a ditch - away from the wind and flying debris - or driving away from the tornado.

The best time to prepare for a tornado is now - while there is no threat for bad weather. Take the time during Severe Weather Preparedness Week to teach your children or talk to your co-workers about what to do during a warning. Make sure everyone has a plan and knows how to use it.

Coming up tomorrow we'll talk about the hazards of flooding and flash floods.