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...Tornadoes and Tornado Safety...
Tornadoes are one of nature's most violent storms. In an average year, about 1,000 tornadoes are reported across the United States, resulting in 85 deaths and over 1,500 injuries. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction, with wind speeds of 250 mph or more. Damage paths can exceed a mile in width and 50 miles in length. Tornadoes can occur anywhere in our Four-State region, and at any time of the year. However, peak tornado season is during the months of March through June, with nearly 70 percent of all tornadoes occurring during this time period. April is the single most active tornado-producing month in our region. Incidentally, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma rank among the top states in the nation in the number of reported tornadoes, with Texas ranked as number 1. After a tornado event, National Weather Service meteorologists make every attempt to survey the damage and classify the storm based on the Enhanced Fujita scale. This classification is made by examining the type of structures damaged and the distance that debris was blown from its source. Our meteorologists will also determine the storm’s touchdown and lifting points, as well as the length and width of the track. If a tornado has occurred in your area please report it to the National Weather Service, but only when the threat to your safety has passed. Tornadoes can travel at over 50 mph, and can destroy a building in a few seconds. Therefore, it is important to know the safety rules for surviving a tornado. When inside homes and small buildings: you should go to the basement or the lowest level of the building. If no basement is available, go to a closet, bathroom, or an interior hallway away from any windows. Protect yourself from flying debris with thick blankets, pillows, cushions, sleeping bags or mattresses. When at schools, hospitals, factories or shopping malls: Go to the designated shelter areas, usually an interior hallway on the lowest floor level. Always stay away from windows. Kneel on the floor against the wall and place hands over your head to provide some protection for your Head. When in mobile homes, portable classrooms or vehicles: leave these structures and go inside a strong building for shelter. If there is no shelter nearby, get into the nearest ditch or depression. Lie flat with your hands shielding your head. Planning ahead and knowing the safety rules is essential in being prepared when a tornado strikes.

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