Tornado Preparedness

In North Carolina, tornadoes can occur with little or no warning at any time during the year. The peak season, however, is March through May. Tornadoes show up as spinning, funnel-shaped clouds that reach from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long.

Tornado Watch vs. Warning

  • Watch – conditions are right for tornado formation.
  • Warning – a tornado has actually been sighted.

How to Prepare

  • Know where to shelter. 
    • In a structure: Go to an interior safe area on the lowest floor. Use arms to protect head and neck. Do not open windows.
    • In a manufactured: Get out immediately! Go to a sturdy, nearby building or storm shelter. Mobile homes offer little protection.
    • If no shelter is available: Drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your car is hit by flying debris, get to a low-lying area and cover your head. Do not get under an overpass or bridge!
  • Sign up for emergency alerts from CodeRed.
  • Know the danger signs for a tornado
    • Dark, often greenish sky.
    • Large hail.
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating).
    • Loud roar, much like a freight train.
    • If you see oncoming storms or any of these danger signs, be ready to take shelter quickly.
  • Develop an emergency plan for your family.