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Severe Weather Safety and Survival

Receiving Severe Weather Warnings

Weather Radios NOAA Weather Radios are an extremely effective and reliable way of receiving warning information.

No matter where you are, you must be able to receive warnings or at least be able to recognize the danger signs that something bad is about to happen.

Use a NOAA Weather Radio, television, commercial radio, outdoor warning sirens, scanners (to monitor local storm spotters), the Internet, pagers/cell phones/PDAs to update yourself on warnings. Use as many methods as possible to make sure you know what is happening.

Other than a Tornado Warning, how can I tell if a tornado is coming?

  • You may be able to see it
    Some tornadoes are easier to see than others.
  • You may be able to hear it
    People have described the sound as a loud roar. It may sound like the low rumble of a train, a jet engine at very close range, or a waterfall.
  • You may see flying debris
    People have mistaken the field of debris around a tornado for a flock of birds or swirling leaves. At close range you might be able to recognize pieces of trees or buildings.
  • You may see pictures or video of the tornado on television
    Don't depend on this!.

However, you may not see or hear any of these visual clues if the tornado is wrapped in heavy rain, or if it is too dark to see. This is what makes preparedness and warnings so critical. People have ignored tornado warnings because they looked outside and did not see the classic black funnel-shaped tornado. Dangerous, destructive tornadoes are often masked by a veil of heavy rain.

What are some other tips about warnings?

  • Don't wait to act until you see or the tornado coming
    Depending on the speed and direction of travel, you might not even be able to hear the tornado until it's too late to do anything about it. Terrain and your surroundings can also hide a tornado from view. Mountains, hills, trees and buildings can prevent you from seeing an approaching tornado.
  • Never run outside to try and find the tornado
    Resist the urge to go outside to see if the tornado is really headed your way. Instead, go to your tornado shelter when the warning is issued. Going outdoors could put you in danger.
  • Don't just rely on warning sirens to alert you about a tornado
    In most cases, sirens are intended for people who are outdoors, and you may not be able to hear even a close siren inside your home with a violent thunderstorm nearby. Use sirens as part of your warning system, coupled with television, weather radio and other tools. In addition, different communities have different policies on when sirens are sounded.

You are ultimately responsible for your safety and the safety of your family. You should execute your tornado safety plan whenever you feel threatened - it does not matter whether there's a warning or not. Tornadoes can develop very quickly, and not every one will be preceded by a warning. The actions you take and the seconds you spend taking shelter could mean the difference between life and death.

NOAA Weather Radio is a VERY reliable way to receive warnings

All warning information is available free of charge and specific to your county via the National Weather Service Weather Radio Network, as well as the Internet. In addition, we provide this information directly to broadcasters, who use the information to inform the public via TV and radio stations.

Warnings are issued for counties, so know what county you're in and those around you. This is particularly critical if you're traveling through unfamiliar areas.

Most people get their weather information by watching television. But, how will know you're being threatened if you're not watching a local television station, the electrical power goes out, the station does not interrupt its broadcast, or you're watching a DVD or video tape?

What if you're asleep? What if you aren't in your home - at a sporting event, at work, camping, etc? You cannot have a television with you at all times of the day.

The good news is you can be alerted to dangerous weather conditions no matter what you're watching, or where you are, with a Weather Radio. Visit the NWS Norman's Weather Radio page for more information.

NOAA All Hazards Radio Saves Lives

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