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News > Tornado season in Illinois is from mid-March through June
Tornado season in Illinois is from mid-March through June

Posted 3/16/2011   Updated 3/16/2011 Email story   Print story


by 375th Mission Support Group

3/16/2011 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- Each year, approximately 1,000 tornados touch down in the United States.

At Scott Air Force Base tornados pose the greatest severe weather threat to life and property. Being ready for severe weather, particularly tornados, is the best defense.
Tornado season in Illinois is from mid-March through June, but tornados have occurred in every month of the year. Illinois averages 44 tornados per year; however, there can always be more. 1974 holds the record for the most tornadoes in a year with 107.

Tornados are usually short in duration, are produced during severe thunderstorms, and are most frequently seen from mid-afternoon through the evening. Tornados typically move from southwest toward the northeast at speeds of 30 to 40 mph, but can move as fast as 70 mph and produce wind gusts of up to 300 mph.

Not every severe thunderstorm will produce a tornado, but if conditions are right, a tornado can develop in minutes. Tornados can take many forms, but are typically funnel shaped. Tornado clouds are usually dark and rotating and large hail is very common. Often debris will be seen flying in a swirling motion in the air.

A tornado produces a unique sound, often been described as sounding like a freight train. The area in which tornados are most prevalent is known as "Tornado Alley," typically defined as the region from Texas to Nebraska.

Only a small percentage of tornados actually strike occupied buildings or homes, but every year a number of people are killed or injured by them. The chance that a tornado will strike a building or home that you are in is very small. If it does, you can greatly reduce the chance of injury by doing and knowing a few simple things.

Be Alert: One of the most important things you can do to prevent being injured in a tornado is to be alert to the onset of severe weather. Most deaths and injuries happen to people who are unaware and uninformed. Keep tuned to local radio and TV stations or to a National Oceanic Administration Association weather radio.

You should also know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
Tornado Watch: Conditions are favorable for a tornado to form.

- Expect heavy rains, hail, and high winds.
- Keep the radio/television on and listen for the latest weather information. 
- Keep watching the sky especially from the west or southwest.
Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted in the area. Scott will only sound the Base Siren System when a tornado threatens the base. The surrounding communities will sound their sirens when a tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service for St. Clair County.
- Seek protection immediately! 
- When in office buildings go to an interior hallway on the lowest floor, away from doors and windows.
Sighting a funnel cloud - If you see a funnel cloud nearby, take shelter immediately. If you spot a tornado that is far away, help alert others to the hazard by reporting it before taking shelter. Use common sense and exercise caution: if you believe that you might be in danger, seek shelter immediately.

Taking shelter - Flying debris causes most deaths and injuries during a tornado. The key to surviving a tornado and reducing the risk of injury lies in planning, preparing, and practicing what you and your family will do if a tornado strikes. Make sure to avoid windows, an exploding window can injure or kill.

At home - Pick a place in the home where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way. The safest place in the home is the interior part of a basement. If there is no basement, go to an inside room, without windows, on the lowest floor. This could be a center hallway, bathroom, or closet. For added protection, get under something sturdy such as a heavy table or workbench. If possible, cover your body with a blanket, sleeping bag, or mattress, and protect your head with anything available--even your hands.

In a mobile home - Do not stay in a mobile home during a tornado. Mobile homes can turn over during strong winds. Even mobile homes with a tie-down system cannot withstand the force of tornado winds. Plan ahead. If you live in a mobile home, go to a nearby building, preferably one with a basement. If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in the nearest ditch, ravine, or culvert and shield your head with your hands.

Long-span buildings - A long-span building, such as a shopping mall, theater, or gymnasium, is especially dangerous because the roof structure is usually supported solely by the outside walls. Most such buildings hit by tornados cannot withstand the enormous pressure. If you are in a long-span building during a tornado, stay away from windows and get to the lowest level of the building.

Public buildings - Extra care is required in offices, schools, hospitals, or any building where a large group of people are concentrated in a small area. The exterior walls of such buildings often have large windows. 

- Move away from windows and glass doorways.
- Go to the innermost part of the building on the lowest possible floor.
- Do not use elevators because the power may fail, leaving you trapped.
- Protect your head and make yourself as small a target as possible.
Outdoors - If possible, get inside a sturdy building. If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch, low-lying area, or near a strong building. Beware of potential flooding.

In a car - Never try to outrun a nearby tornado in a car or truck. Tornados can change direction quickly and can lift up a car or truck and toss it through the air. Get out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building. If there is no time to get indoors, get out of the car and lie in a ditch, low-lying area away from the vehicle, or near a strong building. Beware of potential flooding.

For additional information on tornados and other disaster-related topics you can go to the St Clair County Emergency Management website at .


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