Understand a Tornado:
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornadoes are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees, and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. Tornadoes can occur at any time of day or night and at any time of the year. Although tornadoes are most common in the Central Plains and the southeastern United States, they have been reported in all 50 states.
This website is designed to teach you how to stay safe when a tornado threatens. If you know what to do before, during, and after a tornado, you will minimize your risk of injury and increase your chances of survival.
Tornado Watch vs. Warning:
Tornado Watch: Be Prepared!
Tornado Watch: Be Prepared! Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives! Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.
Tornado Warning: Take Action!
Tornado Warning: Take Action! A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris. Warnings are issued by your local forecast office. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a tornado identified by a forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter/emergency services who are watching the storm.
Before a Tornado:
The links below will help you find out what you can do now to prepare for a tornado. Preparation is key to staying safe and minimizing impacts.
- Be Weather-Ready: Check the forecast regularly to see if you're at risk for tornadoes. Listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings.
- Sign Up for Wichita Falls CodeRED: The number one way to receive an emergency alert from Wichita Falls OEM is through a CodeRED Message. Visit Emergency Alerts for more information on how to sign up and keep your information up to date.
- Create a Communications Plan: Have a family plan that includes an emergency meeting place and related information. If you live in a mobile home or home without a basement, identify a nearby safe building you can get too quickly, such as a church or family member.
- Pick a Safe Room: Have an area in your home, such as a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. Check more ideas for your family plan at: https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
- Practice Your Plan: Conduct a family severe thunderstorm drill regularly so everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching. Make sure all members of your family know to go there when tornado warnings are issued. Don't forget pets if time allows.
- Prepare Your Home: Consider having your safe room reinforced. You can find plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website.
During a Tornado:
Find out what you can do when a tornado strikes. Acting quickly is key to staying safe and minimizing impacts.
After a Tornado:
See the information below to find out what you can do after a tornado has occurred.