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Warning Signs of a Tornado

Author: ServiceMaster Restore

Mother Nature gives us clues as to what she is about to do. Dark clouds often signal rain and thunder tells us a storm is coming. There are also a variety of signs that a tornado is coming. Signs that when heeded can mean the difference between life and death.

If you are in an area that is prone to tornadoes, such as the Tornado Alley area, being knowledgeable about the warning signs of a tornado is vital. There are a variety of myths and old wives' tales about tornadoes, but knowing the true warning signs of a tornado can help you better prepare. These include:

Dark, Green Sky

dark green sky before a tornado

If you spot dark clouds on the horizon or a green-tinted sky, take it as a signal that a tornado could be coming and that you should be aware and cautious. The green sky effect is created when a setting sun meets with a thick cloud made of water droplets and ice particles. In simpler terms, these are simply large thunderstorm clouds.

It is worth noting that neither a green sky nor dark clouds guarantee the development of tornadoes or severe weather. But severe weather, such as tornadoes, hail, lightning, and heavy rain, is possible, so stay alert if you see dark clouds or green skies.

Funnel-Shaped Cloud

funnel shaped clouds forming in field

A funnel cloud is probably the most obvious sign of a tornado. However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does not consider a funnel cloud and a tornado to be the same. A funnel cloud is a rotating column of air that extends from the base of a parent cloud. But, it is only considered to be a tornado when it touches the ground or has a debris cloud or dust whirl beneath it.

Despite the official classification of what a tornado is by the NOAA, take a funnel cloud forming as a strong sign that tornado may be forming and that you should seek shelter immediately.

Approaching Cloud of Debris

cloud of debris as tornado approaches

Debris clouds themselves are another warning sign of tornadoes. As the name implies, a debris cloud is a rotating cloud of dust and debris beneath a funnel cloud or tornado. They are formed when a funnel cloud descends to the ground and begins collecting dust and loose objects.

Loose objects in your property could become projectiles that can cause severe damage to your property, or potentially lead to harm to anyone who is outside as the tornado approaches. If you are in an area prone to tornadoes, ensure that all loose items in your yard are secured or stored away when not in use. Trying to store loose items as a cloud of debris approaches is not safe and will only place you at risk of being harmed.

Loud Sounds Similar to a Freight Train

On a stormy day, if you hear a noise that sounds like a freight train, but you don’t live near train tracks, it may be time to take action. Tornadoes have been described as making loud noises akin to a rushing waterfall, stampeding bulls, or a freight train. The loud, persistent roar of an oncoming tornado can occur day or night and doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder.

These loud signs may be used as a sign that a tornado is coming at night, but it’s best to rely on information from trusted sources, such as your local weather station or the news to know when it’s best to take shelter. Not all tornadoes are known for creating this sound, and the level of sound will always depend on the size and intensity of the tornado.

Stay Safe in the Event of a Tornado

Every tornado is unique and may not display all of these signs. But if you see any of these indicators, it is important to know what to do. Ensure that you prepare beforehand by creating a preparedness plan that you discuss with your entire family.

Tornadoes cause millions of dollars of worth of property damage each year. Wind and water damage caused by these storms can be extensive and quick response is key. If you experience tornado damage to your home, ServiceMaster Restore is here to help. We’ll work quickly to get your home back to normal, We have more than 850 locations across the United States that are locally owned and operated. Our tornado damage restoration experts will help you get back to normal as quickly as possible.

Call 1-800-RESPOND to reach our disaster response center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

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