How to Recognize a Tornado

Written by The Ready Store

Forecasters are predicting a number of violent storms this weekend in the Midwest United States. They are saying that conditions are “ripe” for violent tornadoes in the nation’s midsection – ranging from Texas to Minnesota. (Read the Fox News article.)

We always want you to be prepared, so we’ve prepared this document that will help you recognize the coming dangers of a tornado.

The most reliable source of information is from someone who has been trained to recognize tornadoes. Be sure to keep an eye and ear on the news meteorologists.

Visual Evidence
However, if you don’t have access to a professional, you may be able to notice patterns. Below, we’ve listed typical signs of a coming tornado.

 

Inflow bands. These are bands of low cumulus clouds that extend from the storm’s center to the south or southeast. If you see inflow bands, it means that the storm is gathering air from several miles away.
Beaver’s tail. This is a smooth, flat cloud extending from the base of the storm to the east or northeast. It is usually found on the southern edge of the precipitation area.
Wall cloud. This is a cloud that is usually attached to the visible precipitation area of the storm. They are about two miles in diameter and mark the strongest updraft of the storm. They usually appear for about 10-20 minutes before the tornado.
Rear flank downdraft. This is a downdraft of cloud cover. It typically looks like curtains or rain wrapping around the cloud base. It will cause gusts of downward wind bursts. This will cause a hook echo feature on radar.
Condensation funnel. This is what most people know as the tornado. This is when the cloud and condensation moves towards the ground and creates a funnel cloud.

Other Evidence
Hail. Typically, there will be rain and hail with a tornado storm. Many times people report larger-than-average hail with a storm.

Loud roar. Many times, you’ll also hear a loud roar that many people describe as the sound of a freight engine.

If you believe a tornado is approaching, get into a basement or safe place. It is better to be cautious and be safe!

Updated April 13, 2012

2 Comments

  1. Justin wrote:

    One word of caution. Some storms that produce tornadoes can have a very heavy rain column that obscures a lot of the features of the storm. In these cases, the tornado is said to be “rain wrapped” and can be hard to see. If you suspect a tornado, even one you can’t see, take cover immediately!

    April 15th, 2012 at 8:56 am
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    September 9th, 2013 at 9:39 am

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