3 Ways to Prepare for a Tornado | Are You Prepared for Tornado Season?

March 08, 2022 7 min read

3 Ways to Prepare for a Tornado | Are You Prepared for Tornado Season?


How To Prepare For A Tornado

Preparing for a tornado is essential for many Americans that live in the midwest of the United States. Last year we saw a number of devastating tornadoes surprise us all when they struck in December.

This surprised so many of us because these tornadoes were severe, abundant, and struck out of season. After looking at the aftermath of these tornadoes we knew we needed to provide our readers with the tools to prepare for these tornados.

But, before we get into the tools to prepare for a tornado we first need to discuss the risk of tornadoes. Once you know the risk of tornadoes we explain the predictions for tornadoes for 2022.

After you understand the landscape of the outlook of tornadoes for 2022 it's time to start learning about the warning signals for tornados. Finally we get into the preparation for tornadoes at home and while driving.

After this article you will be in a 100 times better position for this upcoming tornado season and the potential for a surprise tornado outbreak like we saw last year. 

What Areas Are at Risk Of A Tornado?

The first step in preparing for a tornado is to determine what kind of tornado season you’re expecting. In the United States the risk of a tornado varies depending on where you live.

large tornado

Tornadoes mostly occur in the Great Plains of the United States. This is because the Great Plains are flat, which allows for warm humid air from the Golf Coast to collide more often with cold dry air from Canada.

The collision of the cold dry air and humid warm air happens most often in the spring and summer months. During these months certain states experience more tornadoes than others.

States that reside in what is known as Tornado Valley experience the highest number of tornadoes. States that reside in the tornado valley include Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Northern Texas, Southern South Dakota, Southern Minnesota, and Western Iowa.

The states in tornado valley can often experience 5-7 tornadoes per year; however, certain locations such as some areas in Oklahoma experience as many as 9 tornadoes per year.

As an honorable mention, we do need to note that Florida, Illinois, and Indiana also experience a high number of tornadoes. These states have regions within their state that can occur as 5-7 times a year.


Worst Tornadoes Of 2021

In 2021 we saw a number of tornadoes tear through the United states. These tornadoes devastated many states throughout the midwest but one outbreak stood out from the rest.

large tornado

The outbreak was the December 2021 tornadoes that shocked the country. These tornadoes were so surprising to everyone because there were nearly 70 tornadoes that occurred out of season.

Throughout December nearly 149 tornado warnings were issued during this time across 11 states. From these 149 warnings and 70 tornadoes 90 people were confirmed dead in December from the tornado outbreak.

This December tornado outbreak quickly became the deadliest outbreak breaking the previous record from 1953. This outbreak broke the 1953 Missouri outbreak by nearly double the death toll.

However, this wasn't the only record broken during this outbreak. The other record broken in this outbreak was the quad-state tornado. The tornado quad-state tornado and spanned nearly a 230 mile radius.

This quad-state tornado became the largest tornado in history, beating the previous leader, the 1925 tri-state tornado. How do you prepare for tornado season when tornado season keeps changing?


Predictions for 2022’s Tornado Season

After the surprise of the 2021 December tornado outbreak, predictions for the 2022 tornado season have been uncertain.

For 2022 experts predict that April of 2022 will likely be the worst month of tornados of 2022. The experts believe that there will be more tornadoes than we normally see in April.

Predictions for tornadoes in April of 2022 are 120-170 which is double the tornadoes that happened in April of 2021. Although predictions are made about how many tornadoes we will see in 2022 we take these predictions with a grain of salt.

These predictions are taken with a grain of salt because of the nature of tornadoes themself. Since weather is so unpredictable it’s hard to determine months in advance how many tornadoes we will have.

We saw this happen first hand when we were all surprised with the outbreak of tornadoes in December. Our advice looking at 2022 is to stay on top of the current predictions about the tornadoes that will occur.

With April around the corner we can assume that this data is fairly accurate. Either way, the ways to prepare for a tornado remain the same.


Tornado Warning vs Tornado Watch

If you live in an area where tornadoes are common you should know the difference between a tornado warning and a tornado watch. Essentially a tornado watch is the precursor to a tornado warning.

When you are notified about a tornado watch you need to start preparing for a tornado that might start in your area. When a tornado watch is instated you need to start preparing for a tornado that might come through your area.

This means stocking up on emergency supplies and emergency food. A tornado warning on the other hand is the notice to take action. Tornado warnings are exactly what they sound like, a warning that a tornado has started and is coming through your area.

They will be issued by your local weather forecast to notify all residents of a small area that there may be a tornado passing through your town.

When a tornado warning is sounded you want to move to the lowest interior room of your house and avoid windows. Moving to a low interior part of your home will give you the best chance to survive the damage a tornado can cause to your home.

Once a tornado warning starts it’s a wise decision to stay in this low interior part of your home until the tornado warning is no longer in effect.


How to Prepare For A Tornado at Home

When you are preparing for a tornado there are a number of steps you should take to put yourself in a position to survive the tornado at home.

tornado damage on house

Watch The Weather For A Tornado Watch

The first step you should take is to watch the weather closely once a tornado watch has been issued. The best way to watch for a tornado is to turn on your local news and listen to a NOAA weather radio.

Watching your local news is a safe way to keep on top of the early warning signs of a tornado watch and be notified immediately once a tornado warning is issued. Once a warning is issued you should move to the lowest interior part of your home.

Get An NOAA Weather Radio

This is where a NOAA weather radio becomes essential. Generally you won't have a tv in this area of their home to watch the local news or your power will go out removing the ability to watch the local news.

With a NOAA weather radio you can continue to get weather updates without power. The next step to prepare for a tornado at home is to gather your emergency food.

Gather Your Emergency Food and First Aid Kits

You want to gather your emergency food during this time because you may be stuck in the low interior part of your home for hours when a tornado warning is issued.

On top of being stuck in one room of your home there is a high chance your power will go out which will render your stove useless if your stove runs on electricity.

The third step is to gather a first aid kit and emergency lights. The first aid kit is there for the worst case scenario that a tornado hits your home and leaves you or your family injured.

The lights on the other hand are more likely to be used. It is not uncommon for the power to go out during a tornado warning due to the thunderstorms that accompany a tornado. Finally we recommend keeping important documents close to you in the low interior part of your home.

This is also for a worst case scenario situation where a tornado ravages your home. Keeping these documents close will help you in the aftermath when you need to go about repairing your home.


Preparing For A Tornado While Traveling

The last thing you need to know is how to prepare for a tornado when driving. The number one rule of preparing for a tornado when driving is to not try and outdrive it.

This is because tornados can take sharp 90 degree turns and start moving in your direction when it originally looked like it was moving away from you.

The best way to handle a tornado while driving is to pull over and duck below your windows while remaining buckled into your car.

While ducking below your windows you should also cover your head with your hands to protect your head and neck from any glass or debris that may fly through your window.

Another option to protect yourself from a tornado while driving is to exit your vehicle. Now you only want to exit your vehicle if you find the perfect area to exit your vehicle.

This perfect area is a low lying ditch right off the side of the road. Similar to taking shelter in your car you want to cover your head with your hands while taking shelter in a ditch.

This is only a good option if you can do so safely and don't need to travel too far from your vehicle. One common misconception of looking for a shelter during a tornado is to take shelter under an overpass.

large tornado

This is not a great idea because an overpass doesn't offer much protection from flying debris which are the most common form of injury during a tornado.

When are Tornadoes Most Likely To Happen?

Tornado season is the time of year when the United States experiences the most tornadoes.

From May through early June, the southern Plains (Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas) see their peak "tornado season." On the Gulf Coast, spring arrives sooner. Tornado season begins in June or July in the northern Plains and upper Midwest (North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota).

But keep in mind that tornadoes can strike at any time of year. Tornadoes can strike at any time of day or night, but the majority strike between 4 and 9 p.m. When it comes down to it, the greatest time to prepare for a natural disaster is always right now.