Severe Weather Awareness Week – Tornadoes

April 27, 2011….

While tornadoes aren’t necessarily a common occurrence in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia, they still can happen, which means you need to be prepared.

Tornadoes form within severe thunderstorms that have a specific characteristic – wind shear. Wind shear is defined as the change of wind speed and/or direction in wind with height. For example, a wind profile with westerly winds at the surface at 10 miles per hour and westerly winds of 15 miles per hour two miles above the surface has very low shear. But a profile with a southerly wind at 20 miles per hour and a westerly wind at 55 miles per hour a mile up has tornadolots of shear. Tornadic thunderstorms have strong shear, with high wind speeds and a clockwise rotation of the winds of high increases.

When a severe thunderstorm produces a tornado, a Tornado Warning will be issued by the National Weather Service. This is when you need to take safety precautions

(Photo Credit: NOAA)

The most important thing to do during a tornado is to seek shelter immediately. The safest place to be is on the lowest floor in an interior room. If the building you are in has a basement, that is an ideal location.

Once in a safe place, you should protect yourself by wearing a helmet or covering yourself with a mattress. It is also important to have a source for weather information. Those sources include a NOAA Weather Radio or WJHL.

For a full list of tornado safety precautions, click here.

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