How to Recognize a Tornado

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.

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.Tornado Checklist

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.

inflow-bands

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.

beaver-tail-cloud

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.

Rolling-thunder-cloud

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.

Rear Flank Downdraft

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.

condensation-funnel

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!

5 thoughts on “How to Recognize a Tornado”

  • Justin

    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!

    Reply
  • mike mcdaniel

    I CAN ONLY DESCRIBE ALL OF THE INFORMATION YOUR SUPPLYING IS SIMILAR TO THE TRAINING I RECEIVED WITH THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT SEARCH & RESCUE. IT IS A VOLUNTEER PROGRAM AND PROVIDES A GREAT SERVICE TO YOUR COUNTY. YOUR COMPANY IS AWESOME PROVIDING US WITH A MAGNITUDE OF LIFE SAVING INFORMATION. THANKS ! MIKE

    Reply
  • Connie

    I am having trouble seeing the photos of the examples of tornado recognition. The descriptions are good but it would help if I could see the examples.

    Reply
  • Sarah

    Is there any truth to the warning I have always heard about a green sky? The one time a tornado touched down near me we got off the road because the sky had that odd green look before there was any other warning.

    Reply
    • Nicole from Ready Store
      Nicole from Ready Store May 5, 2016 at 8:47 am

      Hi Sarah! After reading through the article attached, it looks like green skies are linked to sever weather. Very interesting read :)

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-if-sky-is-green-run-for-cover-tornado-is-coming/

      Reply
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