It’s getting to be that time of year again. The jonquils are blooming, the Easter candy is in the stores and the baby geese are beginning to hatch along the lake shore. While Spring is a wonderful time of the year, it also is a signal that tornado season is just around the corner. Are you prepared if the sirens go off?

First, it is important that you know the signs. In addition to the obvious sign of a funnel cloud, you need to look out 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.
  • Whether it is day or night – Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder (some people have described the sound like an approaching freight train).
  • At night, you might see 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.
  • Also at night, a persistent lowering of 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.
  • If you observe any of these conditions, take immediate action to protect yourself.
  • Go into your basement and get under sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench are ideal), or cover yourself with a mattress, blankets, a sleeping bag or other protection.
  • If there are heavy objects on the floor above you (refrigerator, piano, waterbed, etc), do not stay under them – they may fall through a weakened floor and crush you.
  • If you don’t have a basement, go to the lowest floor you can and shelter in the middle of the structure (a closet or bathroom works great, or under a stairwell, or an interior hallway are also good options).
  • STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS
  • Get on the floor and protect yourself with a mattress, blanket, or some other type protection.

After the tornado passes, keep your family together and wait for EMS personnel to arrive. Stay away from power lines and puddles with wires in them. Do not use matches or lighters in case of leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks.

A few simple tips will help you ‘weather’ the storm.