Understanding The Most Tornado-Prone Part Of The US
Did you know that there is a cluster of states in the middle of the US that is highly tornado-prone? This group of states is colloquially known as “tornado alley,” known for its above-average amounts of documented tornadoes each year. From this article, you’ll know where tornado alley is, why it exists, and how to be as prepared as possible if you live in a tornado-prone state.
What Is A Tornado?
When a severe thunderstorm occurs, there is a chance that it will form a fast-moving, powerful funnel of air that can reach the ground and cause major damage. Typically, tornadoes are formed from severe storms called supercells. These storms bring high-speed winds with them, which, under the right conditions, will produce a tornado.
Tornadoes are relatively uncommon in other parts of the world besides the United States. The climate and weather conditions in the part of the midwestern US known as tornado alley are particularly conducive to the formation of tornadoes. Tornadoes can occur in these states at any time in the year, but they are most common in the spring months when cold air and warm air often collide with each other.
Tornado alley is a cluster of states in the midwestern US where tornadoes are most likely to occur. Tornado alley is typically identified as including parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and Ohio. These states, along with the state of Florida, are some of the parts of the US that are most prone to tornadoes, but tornadoes have been recorded in all 50 states.
How Are Tornadoes Measured?
Not all tornadoes are as severe as others. The intensity of each tornado is measured by the Enhanced Fujita scale. The EF scale is used to categorize tornadoes and hurricanes as F0, a gale, F1, weak, F2, strong, F3, severe, F4, devastating, and F5, incredible. The scale categorizes tornadoes based on their size and intensity and uses measurements to project the hypothesized wind speed and potential damage caused by the tornado. Less severe tornadoes are more common, with F4 and F5 tornadoes being much rarer, even in the states in tornado alley.
What To Do If You Live In Tornado Alley
If you live in one of the states in tornado alley, you need to have an emergency kit on standby. An emergency kit contains all the resources you and your family need to be sustained for 72 hours. Since a tornado can severely damage your home, knock out power, and hinder your access to important resources, your emergency kit can be a lifesaver.
Living in a tornado-prone area also means you need to know how to immediately respond when a tornado hits. The high winds caused by a tornado can blow dangerous debris around, causing damage to your home and even breaking windows. If you’re at home during a tornado, find a place to lay low that is as far away from windows as possible. Cover your head with your hands and stay put until the tornado passes.
Building Your Tornado Emergency Kit: First Steps
If you live in one of the states in tornado alley, you can’t go without a tornado emergency kit. This kit can serve multiple purposes, coming in handy in a wide variety of emergency situations. In the event of a tornado, a well-stocked emergency kit will ensure that you and your family have what you need to stay safe and recover from injuries or damage to your home.
When you and your family first start assembling your tornado-ready emergency kit, the first thing to consider is how many members of your household you need to provide resources for. If you’re living by yourself, you can do fine with a smaller emergency kit. However, if you live in a household of more than one person, your emergency kit will need to provide you and everyone you live with 72 hours’ worth of resources.
The primary categories for items that you need for your emergency kit are food and water, tools and utilities, first aid supplies, and wearable items for warmth and protection. If a tornado forces you to evacuate your home, your emergency kit should provide you with everything you need to survive even if you don’t have access to power, groceries, or other resources that natural disasters like tornadoes can compromise.
Building Your Tornado Emergency Kit: Food And Water
The food and water in your emergency kit need to be non-perishable. This means it can last years without going bad. If you live in a tornado-prone area, you want to make sure you can keep your emergency kit on standby without needing to frequently replace the items in it. This keeps your emergency kit as low-maintenance as possible.
When you’re looking for non-perishable food for your emergency kit, there are a few factors to consider. First, you need a source of food that is small enough to carry with you easily without taking up precious space among your other supplies. Some notable non-perishable foods include canned goods, dried fruit, and trail mix, but all of these are heavier and bulkier than would be ideal for your emergency kit. Instead, opt for protein bars or meal replacement bars if you can. These will keep you full for as long as possible while still being light and small enough to carry easily.
Building Your Tornado Emergency Kit: Tools And Utilities
Some of the key tools and utilities that every emergency kit needs can all be found in one consolidated, easy-to-use device called a multi-tool. A multi-tool is like a Swiss army knife for the 21st century, rolling pliers, a screwdriver, a knife, a saw, and much more into one small tool. When a tornado hits and you need to make emergency repairs to your home, a multi-tool is much more reliable and easy to keep nearby than a heavy toolbox.
In addition to a multi-tool, it’s well worth it to pack a roll of duct tape in your emergency kit. Duct tape is perfect for patching up broken windows or sealing leaks. If a tornado damages your home, and you need to make quick, temporary repairs, duct tape is your go-to tool. It may not look great, but it will keep wind and rain out of your home until you can make longer-term repairs.
Building Your Tornado Emergency Kit: First Aid Supplies
Your emergency kit needs to be well-stocked with first aid supplies for patching up cuts, scrapes, and burns that might result from the damage done by a natural disaster like a tornado. First aid supplies can make all the difference when you need to quickly take care of an injury and don’t have access to medical help.
Building Your Tornado Emergency Kit: Wearable Items
To protect yourself from rain, if you are forced to evacuate your home, make sure your emergency kit contains a poncho. In addition, if you need a quick and portable way to keep warm, an emergency foil blanket is ideal. Ponchos and emergency blankets are extremely lightweight and are easy to stash in your emergency kit for when you need them. Your emergency kit should also contain work gloves for handling dangerous debris that might be thrown around by the high winds of a tornado.
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