Tornadoes have been observed on every continent except Antarctica. However, the vast majority of tornadoes in the world occur in the “Tornado Alley” region of the U.S.—the area between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains.

Tornadoes, also known as twisters or cyclones, can cause immense amounts of property damage and can even claim human lives. Take precautions to protect yourself & your home if you live in a high-risk area.

What Is A Tornado?

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air in contact with and extending between a cloud—often a thunderstorm cloud—and the surface of the earth. Winds in most tornadoes blow at 100 mph or less, but in the most violent cases, wind speeds can exceed 250 mph.

Various types of tornadoes include the landspout, multiple vortex tornado, and waterspout. Other tornado-like phenomena that exist in nature include the gustnado, dust devil, fire whirls, and steam devil.

Safety & Preparedness

Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year and just about anywhere in the world. The months with the greatest number of tornadoes overall are April, May, and June—but tornadoes can and do occur any time of year.

Listen to the local news broadcasts for updates on tornadoes. Watch our for the 4 key alerts:

  • Tornado Watch—Conditions are conducive to the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area.
  • Tornado Warning—A tornado has been sighted by spotters or indicated on radar and is occurring or imminent in the warning area.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch—Conditions are conducive to the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning—A severe thunderstorm has been observed by spotters or indicated on radar, and is occurring or imminent in the warning area. Severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes or cause damage from their strong wind gusts and/ or hail.

Be Prepared!

Check the incidence of tornadoes in your area by contacting an expert source. Contact your homeowners insurance agent and discuss your options for tornado protection insurance.

Develop a Family Preparedness Plan and Family Emergency Supplies Kit.

Take note of the usual signs of a tornado. Some facts to keep in mind:

  • Tornadoes usually accompany thunderstorms, but not always.
  • Sometimes the air is calm before a tornado hits, while other cases it is preceded by strong, gusty winds.
  • A tornado may follow sunshine or be shrouded in heavy rain and large, dark, low-lying clouds.
  • The sound of a tornado has been compared to a freight trains or jet engine, but you may or may not hear such a noise before a tornado strikes.

During the storm, you should always seek shelter in the lowest level of the building you are in. Most homes in a tornado-prone area should have a storm cellar located underground. If you are in a building, make sure to go into a smaller inner room or closet—anything that can protect you from flying debris like broken glass or wood.