Tornado Preparedness

Watch or Warning…What Should I Do?

  • Tornado Watch means the weather conditions are just right for tornado the area. You should monitor local media (weather radios, local radio, local TV, etc.), and have options just in case.
  • Tornado Warning  means a tornado has been sighted in the area or has been indicated by National Weather Service (NWS) Doppler radar. When a warning is issued, take cover immediately.
  • If you are signed up for Arlington Alert, you can expect an email, text and page for both watches and warnings

Preparing For a Tornado

  • Get a NOAA Weather Radio with warning alarm tone and battery backup to get information directly from the National Weather Service. This is the quickest way to learn that a tornado is heading your way.  Many models are available.
  • Know what tornado watch and tornado warning mean.
  • When a Tornado Watch is issued, stay tuned to local radio, TV and weather radio for further information and possible warnings.  Pay attention to when the Watch expires, and be prepared to take cover.
  • Determine in advance where you will take cover in case of a tornado warning. Keep this safe location uncluttered.
  • Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
  • If underground shelter is not available, go into a windowless interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris.
  • If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor.  Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.
  • A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection.  Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible.
  • Get a kit of emergency supplies.  Store it in your shelter location.
  • Practice tornado drills at least once a year

During a Tornado

  • If you see a tornado, or once the Tornado Warning has been issued by the NWS, take cover in your safe location immediately or on the lowest level of the nearest substantial building. Protect your body from flying debris with a heavy blanket, pillows, sofa cushions or mattress. Pay attention to when the Warning is expected to expire if you do not have a smart phone or portable radio.
  • Open buildings (shopping mall, gym or civic center):  Try to get into a restroom or interior hallway.  If there is no time, get up against something that will support or deflect falling debris.  Protect your head by covering it with your arms.
  • Cars and trucks: Get out of your vehicle and try to find shelter inside a sturdy building.  A culvert or ditch can provide shelter if a substantial building is not nearby.  Lie down flat and cover your head with your hands.  Do not get under an overpass or bridge.  You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Outdoors.  Try to find shelter immediately in the nearest substantial building.  If no buildings are close, lie down flat in a ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.
  • Mobile homes/ Portable Classrooms: Do not stay in mobile homes.  Leave immediately and seek shelter inside a nearby sturdy building, or lie down in a ditch away from your home, covering your head with your hands.  Mobile homes are extremely unsafe during tornadoes.
  • Stay in your safe location until the danger has passed.

After a Tornado

  • Stay out of damaged buildings and stay clear of downed power lines
  • Help injured or trapped people.  Check on those who might need special assistance, such the elderly, children and people with disabilities.

To get an idea of worst case scenarios, the Capital Weather Gang recently ranked the top 5 tornadoes in the region’s history.