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NATURE

Signs to know if a tornado is coming your way

Tornadoes are one of the most powerful natural phenomena which can be deadly, striking without warning. Here are some telltale signs to give you a heads-up.

Update:
Signs to know if a tornado is coming your way
ALEX DRIGGARS/USA TODAY NETWORKvia REUTERS

Tornadoes can occur anytime of the year but are most common in the spring and summer months. These dangerous vortexes are one of the most destructive and deadly natural disasters, capable of causing widespread damage and loss of life in a matter of seconds. It is essential to be able to recognise the warning signs of a tornado and take appropriate action to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Here are some signs to look out for if a tornado is coming your way:

If the sky appears to be an unusual shade of green, it may be a sign that a tornado is approaching. This is caused by the presence of hail and other debris in the storm clouds, which can scatter sunlight in a way that gives the sky a green tint. Large hailstones are often present in the storms that produce tornadoes. If you see hailstones that are larger than a coin, it may be a sign that a tornado is on its way.

If you see clouds that appear to be rotating or moving in a circular motion, it may be a sign that a tornado is forming. One specificity, a wall cloud, is usually located beneath the base of a thunderstorm and can be an indication that a tornado is forming. If you see a wall cloud, seek shelter immediately.

If the wind suddenly changes direction and starts to blow in a circular pattern, it may be a sign that a tornado is approaching. Sometimes, the wind may suddenly stop and the air may become very still just before a tornado strikes.

Communities in tornado hotspots have outdoor warning sirens that are used to alert people to the presence of a tornado. If you hear a siren, take shelter immediately. Other sounds that indicate a tornado is nearby is a loud, continuous roaring sound that has been compared to the sound of a freight train. If you hear this sound, take shelter immediately.

Keeping safe in a tornado

If you are under tornado warning, there are a number of actions that can be taken to keep you and your loved ones safe. This includes taking shelter in an ICC 500 certified tornado shelter or a safe room as well as not opening windows. Other advice includes taking cover in a windowless room as well as lying under something protective, such as a mattress.

Not everyone will be indoors when a tornado strikes. If you are unable to get inside then seek shelter in a low-lying area such as a ditch or ravine and abandoning your vehicle.