Fall & Winter Tornado Safety


Meteorologist Trent Okerson

As the seasons change, our atmosphere can become more and more active.  Warm and cold air masses battle for position across the middle of the country, setting the stage for turbulent weather, and sometimes severe storms and tornadoes.  Being prepared now is key to staying safe the next time severe weather targets our region.

Have A Plan!

Knowing where to go during severe weather is critical.  The safest place to be in a tornado is underground, either in a storm shelter or basement.  If you do not have a basement, go to the lowest level of a sturdy building, taking shelter in an interior hallway, closet, or bathroom.  Always put as many walls between yourself and the tornado as possible, and stay away from rooms with windows.  Covering yourself with blankets or pillows can help add protection from flying debris...even grabbing a helmet can be a great idea!

One place you do NOT want to be when a tornado strikes is in a mobile home.  Almost half of tornado-related deats occur in mobile homes.  Even if they are anchored properly, these structures are simply not built to withstand the intense winds of a tornado!  If you live in a mobile home, have a designated place of shelter and make plans to go there before severe weather arrives.

If you find yourself in your vehicle as a tornado approaches, DO NOT try to outrun the storm!  If you have time to drive to a sturdy building, that is obviously the safest choice.  However, if you do not have access to another form of shelter, the safest choice is to abandon your vehicle and lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area.  Do not take shelter under a highway overpass....these areas offer little protection from flying debris, and can act as a wind tunnel, increasing the speed of the wind.

Be Informed!

When severe weather threatens, we'll issue a Weather Authority Alert Day.  This means we are expecting the threat for destructive weather in the region, and will be providing the most advanced level of coverage possible.  This is your cue to pay extra attention to changing weather conditions.  Most of the time, this means watches and warnings will be issued as storms approach. Remember...

WATCH is issued when conditions are favorable for the development of severe storms or tornadoes.  You should be on alert for changing conditions and review your severe weather plan.

A WARNING means a severe thunderstorm or tornado has been spotted by a trained storm spotter or detected on radar.  You should take shelter immediately! 

In addtion to staying informed through Local 6, having a NOAA weather radio can be a life saver!  Some of our deadliest tornadoes have hit in the middle of the night when most people are asleep.  A weather radio will wake you up and give you plenty of time to take shelter when that happens.  You can program your radio to alert you for only the counties that you choose....to find out the code for your home county, click here.

We have plenty of reasons to be prepared, because over the past several years, some of the strongest and deadliest tornadoes to affect the Local 6 region have done so during the fall and winter months.  Click on each link to review the official NWS summary for each event:

January 3, 2000 -Owensboro & Crittenden Co., KY Tornado

November 24, 2001-Harris Grove, KY Tornado

November 26, 2001-Henry Co., TN Tornado

November 6, 2005-Evansville, IN Tornado

November 15, 2005-Marshall Co. & Earlington, KY Tornado

November 15, 2005-Paris, TN Tornado

November 27, 2005-Ripley Co., MO Tornado

September 22, 2006-Tornado Outbreak

October 18, 2007-Tornado Outbreak

February 5, 2008-Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak (KY)

February 5, 2008-Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak (TN)

February 29, 2012-Harrisburg, IL Leap Day Tornado Outbreak



WPSD Inside the Weather Poll

Which of these winter weather events is most memorable?

  • Blizzard of 1978
  • Back-To-Back February 1993 Snowstorms
  • Pre-Christmas 2004 Snowstorm
  • November 2005 Tornado Outbreak
  • Super Tuesday 2008 Tornado Outbreak
  • February 2008 Ice Storm
  • Winter Storm '09
  • Leap Day 2012 Tornado Outbreak