Spring is welcome after a cold, snow-packed winter. Yet, it also signals the unwelcome arrival of tornado season.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), about 1,200 tornadoes strike the U.S. each year. April, May and June are the most active months for much of the country, but tornadoes can strike anywhere, anytime.
Test your tornado knowledge by taking our quiz.
1. True or False: You can see a tornado approaching.
Dark skies and heavy rains may prevent you from seeing an oncoming tornado, so the answer is false. However, a roaring, train-like sound or the noise of debris impacting other objects may be a telltale sign.
2. True or False: Opening your home’s windows as a tornado approaches will equalize the pressure in your house and lessen potential damage.
This is false. Not only will doing this not prevent damage, you also could be injured if a window is shattered by the wind as you are trying to open it. Don’t waste precious time. Take cover instead.
3. True or False: Most tornadoes occur between 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
According to the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, this is true. However, tornadoes can strike anytime day or night, so be prepared.
4. True or False: It is not safe to take cover under an overpass or bridge if a tornado is approaching while you are driving.
The structure may fail, wind speed can actually increase in the narrowed space and you will have little or no protection from flying debris, so this is true. It is not safe. If you cannot find a solid shelter, options include staying in your car with the seatbelt fastened and your head below the windows, or finding a spot noticeably lower than the road, such as a ditch, and taking cover there.
5. True or False: The safest place to take shelter in your basement is the southwest corner.
While many storms travel from southwest to northeast, theoretically blowing debris away from you if you are in the southwest corner, in reality, tornadoes can come from any direction. So, this is false. Instead, take shelter under a sturdy table or workbench, or under a structural support such as an I-beam. If you don’t have a basement, take shelter on the lowest level of your home, in an interior room. Always stay away from windows.
6. True or False: If you live by a large lake, you are protected because cold lake water will prevent the formation of a tornado.
The National Weather Service says this is false. The energy of the thunderstorm powering the tornado can overcome a lake’s stable environment.
7. True or False: If you live in a big city, you don’t need to worry about tornadoes because these storms don’t impact metropolitan areas.
According to weather expert Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, this is false. Large cities are hit less frequently by tornadoes simply because urban areas are relatively small targets compared with rural areas across the U.S.
For more information on how to stay safe before, during and after a tornado, download the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s tip sheet or visit Ready.gov.
To learn what to do now to make filing a claim easier if your home is damaged by a tornado, read our blog post: How to Make Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim Easier After a Disaster.
Finally, to make sure your home and personal property are properly insured, review your homeowners or renters policy with your broker or insurance provider. Need help? Contact Hylant.
The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your insurance broker or trusted adviser for insurance-related questions.