When it comes to tornadoes, there’s no such thing as a “tornado season.” Tornadoes can strike anywhere, anytime, and you need to know the drill.
Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms. They can appear suddenly without warning and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears. Be prepared to act quickly.
Know the Signs
- Strong, persistent rotation in the base of a cloud
- Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base – tornadoes sometimes have no visible funnel
- Hail or heavy rain followed by dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes, especially in Virginia, are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.
- Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder does
- If it’s night, look for small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These lights are power lines being snapped by very strong wind, perhaps a tornado.
- Persistent lowering of the cloud base
Watches and Warnings
Learn the terms that are used to identify a tornado.
- Tornado Watch: a tornado is possible in your area. You should monitor weather-alert radios and local radio and TV stations for information.
- Tornado Warning: a tornado has been sighted in the area or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar. When a warning is issued, take cover immediately.
Preparing for Tornadoes