What You Need to Know About Tornado Safety

Large tornado destroying landscape and city

A Safety Profile on Tornadoes and Tornado Safety

Tornadoes are among the most catastrophic natural disasters on planet Earth.

No other weather phenomenon can match their fury and destructive power. Tornadoes can be strong enough to obliterate large buildings or pick up 20-ton railroad cars from the tracks. Today on the Stronghold blog, we take an in-depth look at tornadoes and the danger they pose to you and your family.

What is a tornado?

A tornado is a narrow, rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm. Upon impact with the ground, strong winds associated with a tornado can kick up dust and debris, causing great damage. In the most violent tornadoes, wind speeds can reach up to 300 mph.

When and Where

Tornadoes can occur at any hour of the day, but they usually strike during the late afternoon and early evening (3:00pm to 9:00pm). Peak months of tornado activity in the U.S. are April, May, and June, but tornadoes have occurred in every month of the year.

Most tornadoes in the U.S. form in an area called “Tornado Alley”, where cold and warm fronts converge. Since the land in the Great Plains is relatively flat, it allows cold dry polar air from Canada to meet warm moist tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico. It’s along the front between these two air masses that most tornadoes form.

Related Post: Look for These Tornado Warning Signs


It is estimated that over 1,000 tornadoes occur each year in the U.S., although many go undetected and unreported.

While the central U.S. sees more tornadoes than any other country, only a handful of the deadliest tornadoes in the world have occurred here. This is largely due to the advanced warning systems and the ability of people to get to safety.

Longevity and Wind Pattern

Tornadoes can last from several seconds to more than an hour. The longest-lived tornado in history is unknown. Most tornadoes last less than 10 minutes, however, a single tornado can touch the ground several times in different states.

Typically, tornadoes move from southwest to northeast, but they can travel in any direction. They have an average speed of 30 mph, but speeds can vary from nearly stationary to 70 mph.

Related Post: How a Tornado is Measured

Warning Signs

There are several atmospheric warning signs that precipitate a tornado’s arrival. A dark, often greenish sky, wall clouds, and an approaching cloud of debris are all danger signs. Also, large hail in the absence of rain is often a sign of danger. Research suggests that tornadoes form based on how strongly the wind changes direction, as well as the temperature and moisture levels in the air.

Despite improvements made in meteorology that help us predict tornadoes, there are still many unknown variables as to what causes them. The only certainties are advance warning and proper precautions.

Deadliest Tornado in World History

Did you know? The deadliest tornado in world history was the Daulatpur–Saturia tornado in Bangladesh. It occurred on April 26, 1989, and killed approximately 1,300 people. In its history, Bangladesh has had at least 19 tornadoes kill more than 100 people, almost half of the total for the rest of the world.

It’s vital that you stay safe during a tornado. Let us provide you with a Stronghold Safe Room to withstand the most powerful storms and disasters. Contact us today for a free price quote.  


Tornadoes are rated on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. The original Fujita Scale was inaccurate in its wind speed recordings but has since been improved. The higher the number is on the Fujita Scale, the stronger the tornado. EF5 is the highest rating on the scale. Here are the characteristics of an EF5 tornado:

  • The estimated wind speed of at least 200 mph. The highest wind speed ever recorded in a tornado was in Moore, OK in 1999, where wind gusts hit 300 mph.
  • The damage of an F5 tornado is incredibly catastrophic. Strong-framed houses are picked up off their foundations and crumble in the winds. Cars and other large objects become missiles that can be thrown over 300 feet. Any trees that remain standing are completely debarked.

Deadliest Tornado in U.S. History

It’s rare for a tornado to travel more than 15 miles, but it has happened before. The deadliest tornado in U.S. history, an F5, occurred on March 18, 1925. Known as the Tri-State tornado, it cut across Missouri, Indiana and Illinois and lasted for about 3.5 hours. At the time, a misguided policy led people to receive weather reports of “normal”. The tragic aftermath of their unawareness resulted in 695 deaths, as the tornado traveled a path of over 200 miles.

Stay Safe During a Tornado with Stronghold

Without a doubt, tornadoes are among the most destructive and devastating natural disasters on the planet. Our residential Z4 Safe Room is EF5 tornado resistant. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Call us at 417-725-0055 to buy your Stronghold Safe Room.

Now that you have some basic knowledge of tornadoes, you need to know what to do before, during and after a severe storm! Check out our next blog for more tips.