Weather Emergencies

Tornado and High Winds

Tornadoes produce violent winds that can damage homes, vehicles, people, and wildlife. The primary dangers associated with tornadoes are high winds and flying debris. Severe thunderstorms and hail commonly precede a tornado. A dark funnel cloud or roaring noise (similar to a train) is evidence of an actual tornado.

A tornado watch is issued when weather conditions are ideal for a tornado to form.

A tornado warning is issued when a tornado is actually identified in the immediate vicinity.

  • If a tornado warning is issued, seek shelter immediately.
  • Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.
  • Do not drive to shelter, unless you are already in a vehicle when the warning is issued. Drive to the nearest building or seek shelter in a ditch or ravine.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle.
  • If you are in a school, hospital, factory, shopping mall, or other public area, go to the designated shelter area. Interior halls on the lowest floors are usually best.
  • If you are at a home or in a building, go to an interior room on the lowest level (e.g., bathroom, closet, hall, etc.). Get under a piece of sturdy furniture if possible.

Winter Weather

Wear appropriate clothing for local weather conditions and keep your vehicle in good working order. If the roads become slick with ice, use extreme caution or avoid driving.

  • Slippery streets increase stopping distances. Drive slowly in winter weather.
  • Choose shoes that provide the best footing for the weather.
  • Clear walkways and steps of snow and ice. Use handrails where available.
  • Clean snow and ice from all vehicle windows before attempting to drive.

Heavy rain and high winds provide dangerous driving conditions. Motorists should be aware of local weather conditions and avoid roads that tend to flood in heavy rains.

Do not drive in flooded areas or attempt to cross moving water in an automobile. Moving water can easily capsize a car or truck and drown the victim. Avoid creeks, rivers, ditches, and flooded roads during heavy rains. Keep children from playing in these areas during inclement weather.  High winds can topple trees, outdoor equipment, and electrical lines. Avoid downed power lines and notify the utility company of power outages. If an electrical line falls across your car, do not move the car or try to get out. Stay where you are until help arrives.



Lightning is nature's worst destroyer. A typical lightning bolt contains several hundred million volts at 30,000 or more amperes.

  • Lightning need not strike a person directly to be dangerous.
  • Lightning can crash down from a virtually clear sky.
  • Stay away from open doors or windows during an electrical storm.
  • Avoid using the telephone or television set and keep clear of all metal objects such as pipes and electrical appliances during a storm.
  • Do not go outside.

If you find yourself caught in a storm away from a protected building:

  • Avoid tree lines.
  • Stay away from unprotected storm shelters.
  • Stay away from flag poles, towers, and metal fences.
  • Do not wade, swim, or go boating in a thunderstorm.
  • A closed automobile provides a protective metal shell.
  • If caught in the open, stay low.