TornadoIn recognition of National Severe Weather Week (March 1 – March 7), the Fairview Park Fire Department and Cuyahoga County Office of Emergency Management are providing information on being prepared in the event of a tornado.

While tornadoes can occur at any time, late spring and summer are the prime tornado season in Ohio. Weather forecasting science is not perfect and some tornadoes do occur without a tornado warning. There is no substitute for staying alert to the sky. Keep your eyes open for the following tornado warning signs:

  • Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
  • Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base – tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
  • Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.
  • Day or night – loud, continuous roar or rumble.
  • Night – small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado. 

What to do during a tornado:

  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or media broadcast.
  • Do not wait until you see the tornado to seek shelter. The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement or safe room. If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.
  • Homes are not safe during tornadoes or other severe winds. Go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately.
  • If you are caught outdoors:
    • Immediately walk or drive to the closest sturdy shelter if possible.
    • If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park and either:
      • Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
      • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
    • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

Above all else, be prepared by making sure your family has a plan in the event of a tornado or other emergency.

For more information on emergency preparedness, visit the website of the Cuyahoga County Office of Emergency Management.