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Smart business owners prepare for every contingency, big or small. Backing up data, purchasing liability insurance – these are all no-brainers for protecting your business interests. Another area you need to consider is natural disasters and catastrophic events, such as earthquakes, severe weather, hurricanes, and fires. Today, we will be discussing tornado preparation tips for commercial businesses.


Tornadoes are perhaps the most violent storms that Mother Nature can brew up. With powerful winds, driving rain and hail, and wide area of potential damage, a tornado can touch down with little warning and cause massive damage to homes and businesses in its path. Under the right conditions, several cyclones can touch down, making matters even worse.


Tornadoes are rotating columns of air that extend from a severe thunderstorm and eventually touch down upon the ground. They are massively violent storms that can reach wind speeds of up to 300mph. Their path of damage can exceed a mile in width and up to 50 miles in length, leaving behind destroyed buildings and uprooted trees.

A tornado spawns from severe thunderstorms, spurned on by the meeting of warm, moist air from one system and cool, dry air from another.


When a tornado is measured in terms of power, the F-Scale – or Fujita Scale – is used to measure its intensity and wind speed. Below is a list of the F-scale ratings from weakest to most powerful:

  • F0: 40-72mph
  • F1: 73-112mph
  • F2: 113-157mph
  • F3: 158-206mph
  • F4: 207-260mph
  • F5: 261-318mph

Once a tornado reaches F1, it can begin to several damage mobile homes and houses with weak roofing material. At F2, mobile homes are typically completely destroyed and roofs of homes are often ripped off. Storms that are rated F3 or above can damage walls of a building or completely level them. At this level, cars can be thrown several hundred yards and massive devastation begins to occur.


  • The National Weather Service has several tornado alerts that they issue when there is a probability of a tornado forming. Below is a list of the different tornado alerts:
  • Tornado Watch: A tornado watch is issued when there are favorable conditions for a tornado to develop near the “watch” area. Typically a tornado watch is issued before severe weather occurs and lasts for anywhere between four to eight hours.
  • Tornado Warning: A tornado warning is issued when a tornado is seen by spotters or a radar. They can be issued even when a tornado watch is absent, and generally last 30 minutes.
  • Tornado Emergency: Tornado emergencies are issued when there is solid proof that a tornado is in the area and is causing damage to structures.


As with most catastrophic events in business (and life), the most important aspect of surviving a tornado for a commercial company is to be prepared. This preparation includes many things – the least of which is a Continuity of Operations Plan. In a nutshell, a Tornado Continuity of Operations Plan is a blueprint for how you will continue business if you are affected by a tornado.

There are different levels of consideration when developing a plan. For example, what do you do if you power supply is cut off for a day? How about a week? How will employees get to work? Will customers be able to purchase from your company or website? What alternatives do you have in place to continue business if your main location is compromised by storm damage, water damage, or fire damage?

You may wish to have a back-up location to continue business operations in the event that your main office suffers structural damage during the tornado. has a great page for building a Continuity of Operations Plan.

Another way to prepare for a tornado is to create a disaster preparation kit for your office. This will include emergency supplies (such as a first aid kit), back-up drives for data, batteries, water, food, and so forth. has a terrific basic disaster supplies kit guide that you can follow, substituting in items that are pivotal for your business operations.

Awareness is just as important as preparedness when it comes to a tornado or any other type of disaster. Keeping a hand-cranked or battery-operated weather alert radio in your office is important to keep you and your employees up to date on vital information during the storm.

Having a communication plan in place for employees, vendors, suppliers, and customers in the event of a tornado is pivotal for the continuation of business operations as well.


In the event that your business is hit by a tornado and you require commercial disaster recovery and tornado cleanup services, you will want to contact a disaster restoration service that specialized in businesses, such as the catastrophe experts at ServiceMaster Cleaning & Restoration. Services such as this will help develop a disaster recovery plan, asses any property damage, and help in the tornado cleanup and recovery process. They will also help work with your insurance company to make sure the claims process goes as smoothly as possible.