Tornado Disaster Preparedness

While rare, it is not unheard of to have tornadoes threatening our region. The Pacific Northwest can see one to three tornadoes, on average, each year.

Before a tornado

  • Prepare an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television newscasts.
  • Heed instructions given by local emergency management officials.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions and watch for approaching storms.

Danger signs include:

  • Dark, often greenish sky
  • Large hail
  • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
  • Loud roar, similar to a freight train
  • If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately

If you are inside during a tornado

  • Go to a windowless interior room on the lowest level of the building, preferably a basement or storm cellar. If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.
  • Get away from the windows.
  • Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they tend to attract debris.
  • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench, table or desk and hold on to it.
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • If you are in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere.

If you are outside during a tornado

  • If possible, get inside a building.
  • If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a low-lying area or crouch near a strong building.
  • Watch for flood waters which may fill ditches and other low-lying areas.
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck from flying debris.

If you are in a car during a tornado:

  • Never try to drive faster than a tornado in a car or truck. Tornadoes can change direction quickly and can lift up a car or truck and toss it through the air.
  • When it is safe to pull over, get out of your car as soon as possible and take shelter in a nearby building.
  • If there are no buildings nearby, get out of your car and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle. Be aware of the potential for flooding and watch for flying debris.