Know the signs of a tornado: Weather forecasting
science is not perfect and some tornadoes do occur
without a tornado warning. There is no substitute
for staying alert to the sky.
Besides an obviously visible tornado, here are some things to look and listen for:
- Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
- Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base -- tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
- Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
- Day or night - Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
- Night - Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
- Night - Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning -- especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.
The biggest danger you'll face if a tornado strikes while you're in the forest is falling trees and tree limbs.
- If possible, get inside a building. If you're at a developed campground, the restroom may be the closest option.
- Rockshelters (areas under the cliffline) may offer partial protection from falling tree limbs.
- If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building. Be aware of the potential for flooding.
- Use arms to protect head and neck.
If in a car:
- Never try to outdrive 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.
- Get out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building.
- If there is no time to get indoors, get out of the car and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle. Be aware of the potential for flooding.