Facts and Statistics About Tornado Safety in the United States

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Tornadoes are one of the most unpredictable natural disasters that can strike anywhere, anytime in the United States. It’s essential to stay informed about the statistics and safety tips to keep your family safe.

Heading to a storm shelter or finding the nearest one can make all the difference when facing a tornado. Stronghold Safe Rooms discusses some vital facts and statistics about tornado safety that everyone should know.

What is a tornado?

A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the Earth and the cloud above it. They are often accompanied by thunderstorms (and possibly hail) and can cause significant damage to structures and natural landscapes. 

In fact, tornadoes cause an average of 80 deaths and 1,500 injuries each year in the United States alone.

Where and when do tornadoes occur most?

Tornadoes typically form in the central and southern regions of the United States, commonly referred to as “Tornado Alley”. However, tornadoes can form in any state at any time of the year, with tornado season occurring between March and June. The states most frequently affected by tornadoes include Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, and Florida.

These areas are more prone to tornadoes due to a combination of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and cooler, drier air from Canada colliding, creating the perfect conditions for tornadoes to form. These states are also more prone to tornadoes because of their relatively flat topography.

However, it is important to note that tornadoes have occurred in every state and at all times of the year, so it is crucial to always be prepared for the possibility of a tornado no matter where you live. 

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States experiences an average of 1,200 tornadoes each year. 

Related Post: Residential Storm Shelter FAQs

What is the Fujita Scale?

The Fujita Scale, also known as the Fujita-Pearson Scale, provides a way to measure the intensity of a tornado based on wind speed and the damage it causes. The scale ranges from F0, the weakest tornado, to F5, the strongest tornado. The scale was developed by Ted Fujita, a Japanese-American meteorologist, and Allen Pearson, a civil engineer, in 1971. 

The Fujita Scale takes into account the wind speeds and damage caused by the tornado. For example, an F1 tornado has wind speeds of 73-112 mph and can cause moderate damage such as broken windows and tree branches. On the other hand, an F5 tornado has wind speeds of over 200 mph and can cause total destruction of well-built structures. 

While the Fujita Scale is still used today, it has some limitations. It does not take into account other factors, such as the size or duration of a tornado. You’ll see the National Weather Service refer to tornadoes as “EF5” meaning “Enhanced Fujita Scale”.

The Best Ways To Stay Safe During a Tornado

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones during a tornado is to be prepared and know how to stay safe. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Have a plan. Make sure you have a plan in place for what to do if there is a tornado warning for your area. This includes knowing where to go, how to communicate with others, and what to bring with you.

2. Stay informed. Keep up to date on the latest weather conditions and tornado warnings by listening to the radio or television, checking online resources, or downloading weather apps. Keep your phone with you when you go to a shelter.

3. Seek shelter. The safest place to be during a tornado is in a tornado-proof shelter, basement, or interior room on the lowest level of a building. Stay away from windows and exterior walls, and cover yourself with a mattress or blankets if possible.

4. Protect your head. Use a helmet or other head covering to protect yourself from flying debris, which can cause serious injury.

5. Stay put. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car or on foot. If you are driving, pull over to the side of the road, get out of your car, and lie in a ditch or low-lying area.

Remember, tornadoes are unpredictable and can be extremely dangerous. The best way to stay safe is to be prepared, stay informed, and take immediate action when a tornado warning is issued.

What are some of history’s most disastrous tornados?

One of the most destructive tornados in U.S. history was the Tri-State Tornado of 1925. This tornado killed over 600 people and caused over $1.4 billion in damages (in today’s currency). It was also the longest-lasting tornado on record, with a path of destruction that covered over 219 miles.

Another devastating tornado occurred in Joplin, Missouri, on May 22, 2011. The tornado was an EF5, the most destructive rating on the Fujita Scale, and killed 158 people while causing over $3 billion in damage. The destruction caused by this tornado was immense, with entire neighborhoods being flattened and buildings reduced to rubble. Around one-third of a city of more than 50,000 people was leveled in the span of 32 minutes. Part of the reason for so many deaths was due to inadequate shelters that could withstand such a powerful tornado and wind-borne debris.

In 1999, the town of Moore, Oklahoma, was hit by an EF5 tornado that destroyed over 8,000 homes and killed 36 people. The tornado had winds of over 300 miles per hour and left a path of destruction over a mile wide. It’s generally regarded as one of the largest and most destructive twisters ever recorded.

Residential Storm Shelters with Stronghold

Protect your family from tornadoes with an above-ground storm shelter from Stronghold Safe Rooms. They are rated to withstand winds up to 250 mph, equivalent to an EF5 tornado. Above-ground shelters can easily be installed in your garage or on a dedicated concrete pad outside your home.
Contact our team or call (417) 883-0733 today for a consultation.