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Alert Seminole Notification System




  Tornado Watch
  Tornado Warning
  Tornado Danger Signs
  Have Supplies Ready
  Tornado Drills
  When Tornado Arrives

Tornadoes strike suddenly. With little time to react, advanced planning is a key to survival.

What is a Tornado?

A tornado is a violent windstorm characterized by a twisting funnel shaped cloud. It is spawned by a thunderstorm. For those of us in Florida, hurricanes often bring with them thunderstorms which precede tornadoes.

Tornado They are produced when cool air overrides a layer of warm air, forcing the warm air to rise rapidly. The damage from a tornado is a result of the high wind velocity and windblown debris.
Tornado season is generally March through August, although tornadoes can occur any time during the year. They tend to occur in the afternoons and evenings. Eight out of ten tornadoes occur between noon and midnight.

Tornado Watches and Warnings


A tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions which can lead to the development are present in your area. Remind family members about safety precautions, such as using a "safe room" in your home if you have built one, and continue to listen to broadcast reports.


A tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service when tornado has been sighted or observed on radar. Move the family to the pre-identified safe room or other secure location and stay tuned to a battery operated radio until the National Weather Services determines that the threat has passed.

Tornadoes are rated by the Enhanced Fujita Scale:

  EF0: 65 - 85 mph winds.
  EF1: 86 - 110 mph winds.
  EF2: 111 - 135 mph winds.
  EF3: 136 - 165 mph winds.
  EF4: 166 - 200 mph winds.
  EF5: Over 200 mph winds.

Tornado Facts

The United States witnesses about 100,000 thunderstorms annually which produce about 1,000 tornadoes.

Tornadoes can be made up of numerous mini-funnels

About 42 people are killed annually due to tornadoes.

Key Points

The best protection during a tornado is an interior room on the lowest level of a building. Better yet, a basement or storm cellar if they are available.

Tornadoes have incredible speed. Sometimes wind velocity reaches 300 miles an hour, far more than a Category Five hurricane. The winds can uproot trees and structures and turn harmless objects into deadly missiles. All this can happen in seconds. Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable to tornadoes.

The leading cause of deaths in a tornado are from building collapses, flying debris and the effects of trying to flee the tornado by car.

Tornadoes are most destructive when they touch ground. Tornadoes can touch ground many times during their life span.


1. Dark, often greenish sky
2. Wall cloud
3. Large hail
4. Loud roar, often described as sounding like a freight train
5. Visible funnel, often with debris below it
6. Rain or low lying clouds can often obscure the funnel
7. The wind could die down and the air become very still just prior to the tornado hitting
8. Approaching clouds of debris could be visible even if the funnel is not
9. Tornadoes often following on the trailing edge of thunderstorms. It is not uncommon to see sunlit sky behind the tornado.

Before the Tornado

Advanced planning is the key to surviving a tornado. The entire family must be aware that there is little warning. Having planned their actions prior to the event is critical.


Flash light and extra batteries

First aid kit and manual

Emergency food and water

Portable, battery operated radio

Manual can opener

Essential medicines

Cash and credit cards

Sturdy shoes


Designate an area in your home as a shelter. It should be a room which you feel is the strongest structurally and thus the most likely to withstand the tornado winds and flying debris.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency encourages people to have a "safe room "in their house. This room should be structurally enhanced to make it more secure than it was when originally built. Those families awaiting their home being constructed should consider talking with their contractor about building in extra strength for one of the rooms. It is less expensive to do this during construction than to modify the house later.

Have the rooms equipped with the supplies listed above. Your family should practice responding to the room as if there were an actual threat.


Families could be separated when the tornado occurs. Telephone service might be disrupted. A family communication plan should identify who your family members will call to exchange information about their location and condition. This might be a relative or friend of the family who is willing to take messages and coordinate information.

Your house or entire neighborhood might be destroyed or cordoned off by emergency workers. Have an alternate location selected where the family can assemble. Keep in mind the age of the younger members of your family when developing your communications plan. Keep it simple.

During the Tornado


1. Get to the lowest level or point in your home, such as a basement.
2. If you home does not have a basement, go to some area without windows, such as an inner hallway or perhaps bathroom.
3. Stay away from windows.
4. Room corners attract debris, so stay in the center of the room.
5. Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
6. Seek shelter under a sturdy piece of furniture, such as a dining room table.
7. If you are in a mobile home, leave it and seek shelter elsewhere.


1. If a basement exists use it, otherwise seek an interior hall.
2. Avoid facilities with wide span roofs, such as shopping malls, auditoriums and the like.
3. Use your arms to protect your neck and head.


1. If possible, seek shelter in a building
2. If you do not have time to get inside of a building, seek out low lying ground or a ditch.
3. Crouch near a strong building


1. You cannot out-drive a tornado. They can move upwards to three hundred miles per hour, change direction and can lift up vehicles as large as a railroad car and toss it through the air.
2. Leave the vehicles as quickly as possible and seek shelter in a building.
3. If you cannot reach a building, seek shelter outdoors as indicated above.


1. Remain aware that tornadoes can change directions and return quickly to areas they just left.
2. Give aid to the injured.
3. Listen to broadcast news reports.
4. Stay away from damaged buildings. If your neighborhood has been evacuated, return home only after authorities have permitted re-entry.
5. Use telephones only for emergency calls.
6. Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline and other hazardous substances.
7. Leave any building in which you can smell gas or chemical fumes.
8. Take photographs of damage to support your insurance claims.


Emergency Management     150 Bush Blvd    Sanford, Florida 32773    (407) 665-5102