While there’s no set tornado season, tornadoes can happen anywhere, at any time. They’re more frequent in Tornado Alley and in springtime, when over 1,200 touch down in the US each year.
Here are just a few things you need to know about tornadoes and their risks:
- As mentioned before, the peak time for tornadoes is spring, but they can happen year round. Tornadoes crop up more frequently during transitional periods like spring and fall, which create optimal weather conditions when wind is coupled with warm, damp air trapped under cool, dry air.
- Tornado watches are different than warnings. Under a tornado watch, the National Weather Service has declared that weather in an area could produce tornadoes. During a warning, a tornado has been spotted close by, or a storm circulation that could turn into a tornado has been seen on radar. Basically, if there’s a watch, you should watch the weather. If there’s a tornado warning, you should take shelter immediately.
- Because of El Niño, experts are predicting fewer tornadoes this year. El Niño changes the jet stream in Tornado Alley, reducing the chance of tornadoes pushing the type of weather that spawns them further south.
- Don’t open your windows. There are a lot of untrue safety myths out there, many which can put you in danger. In the event of a tornado, don’t open your windows. Opening windows makes it more likely for debris to fly in. In the event of a tornado, it’s important to keep all windows closed and stay away from them, taking shelter in basements, cellars, or interior spaces on the lowest floor of a structure.