It’s hard to believe it has been almost a year since devastating tornadoes ripped through our state, killing more than 20 people, injuring hundreds of others and damaging homes and businesses.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tornado occurrences peak in the southeast between March and May, so it’s important that we all know what to look for and how to prepare as we enter this season of uncertainty.

Tornadoes, known as nature’s most dangerous storms, can be more than a mile wide and create winds that reach up to 300 miles per hour. Tornadoes can develop quickly in the right conditions, which is one of the reasons these storms are so dangerous. Look for these signs that a tornado may form.

Signs a tornado may be coming:

– Tornadoes typically occur in the late afternoon and evening.

– Often there is calm before the storm, and it is not uncommon for a tornado to take place under sunny skies, however, they generally occur at the trailing edge of a thunderstorm.

– Watch for a dark, often greenish sky, large hail and a loud roar that sounds similar to a freight train.

– A tornado WATCH means that a tornado is possible, and to stay tuned as storm conditions develop.

– A tornado WARNING means that a tornado has been spotted or indicated on weather radar and you should take shelter immediately.

Things to do before a storm:

– Develop a plan and determine the safest place to take shelter in your home. The safest rooms are those in the middle of a house, with no windows, such as a lower-level bathroom or basement.

– Prior to peak tornado season, make sure to trim any tree limbs and branches that could be a hazard to your home. Do not trim trees close to overhead power lines; call your electric cooperative instead.

– Remove any debris from around your lawn. Be sure all lawn tools and yard ornaments are put away and secure patio furniture; checking for these hazards may help keep you and your home safe in the event of a tornado.

Knowing what to look for and preparing for a tornado can help keep your family safe this spring.

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