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Joplin Tornado Anniversary, Reminder of Tornado Safety

By Neville Miller, Meteorologist, nevillem@kmiz.com
Published On: May 22 2013 10:15:04 AM CDT
Updated On: May 22 2013 10:28:20 AM CDT

A nearly mile-wide tornado struck Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011, resulting in more than 160 deaths and destroying a significant portion of the city. The tornado was rated an EF-5, the highest rating on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which uses damage from a storm to determine its strength. Wind speeds were in excess of 200 mph as the tornado moved through Joplin.

A twister of similar strength devastated Moore, Oklahoma days ago on May 20 resulting in at least 24 deaths.

Knowing what to do if a tornado is baring down on your area could save your life. Here are some tips provided by the National Weather Service.

A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR THE
DEVELOPMENT OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS, WHICH CAN PRODUCE TORNADOES IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH AREA. IF YOU ARE IN THE WATCH AREA...KEEP INFORMED OF THE LATEST WEATHER INFORMATION. THESE STORMS
CAN DEVELOP RAPIDLY SO THERE MAY BE OCCASIONS WHEN ADVANCE
WARNING IS NOT POSSIBLE.

A TORNADO WARNING MEANS A TORNADO HAS BEEN SPOTTED OR INDICATED
BY RADAR...AND YOU SHOULD TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO PROTECT
YOURSELF AND THOSE AROUND YOU.

FOLLOW THESE SAFETY RULES TO KEEP YOURSELF SAFE:

(1) MOBILE HOMES PROVIDE ABSOLUTELY NO PROTECTION FROM HIGH
WINDS. IF YOU LIVE IN A MOBILE HOME...PLAN YOUR ESCAPE TO A
NEARBY STURDY BUILDING THAT WILL GIVE YOU PROPER SHELTER. AT
THE FIRST SIGN OF AN APPROACHING STORM GO IMMEDIATELY TO THIS
BUILDING.

(2) IN HOMES...APARTMENT COMPLEXES...OR OTHER SMALL BUILDINGS...
GO TO THE BASEMENT OR TO A SMALL ALL-INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST
FLOOR LIKE A HALL OR BATHROOM CLOSET. USE HEAVY FURNITURE FOR
SHELTER OR COVER YOURSELF WITH A MATTRESS OR BLANKET. IF YOU GO TO YOUR BASEMENT, BE AWARE OF WHAT OBJECTS ARE ABOVE YOU ON THE FLOOR ABOVE (I.E. REFRIGERATOR, HEAVY FURNITURE). IF YOU CAN, GO TO A SAFE AREA IN YOUR BASEMENT AWAY FROM THESE ITEMS, WHICH COULD POTENTIALLY FALL THROUGH THE FLOOR IF THE CEILING COLLAPSES.

(3) IN SCHOOLS...HOSPITALS...FACTORIES...OR SHOPPING CENTERS...
GO TO DESIGNATED SHELTER AREAS. INTERIOR HALLS ON THE LOWEST
LEVELS ARE USUALLY THE BEST. STAY AWAY FROM GYMNASIUMS OR
AUDITORIUMS. AVOID ALL OUTSIDE WALLS AND WINDOWS.

(4) NEVER TRY TO OUTRUN A TORNADO IN A VEHICLE. TRAFFIC AND THE
LAYOUT OF ROADS MAY BLOCK YOUR ESCAPE. YOU SHOULD ABANDON CARS
AND TRUCKS IF A TORNADO APPROACHES...AND TAKE SHELTER IN A NEARBY
BUILDING.

(5) IF CAUGHT IN THE OPEN WITH NO SHELTER NEARBY...FIND A
DITCH...CULVERT OR OTHER LOW AREA AND LAY DOWN FLAT. COVER YOUR
HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS FOR PROTECTION.

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