This came to the Mercury inbox the other day, and clearly the county is hoping all will take heed.
From the County's Emergency Preparedness People:
Tips for Tornado Preparedness
When it comes to tornadoes, there’s no such thing as a “tornado season.” Tornadoes can strike anywhere, anytime, and you need to know the drill. Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms. They can appear suddenly without warning and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears. Be prepared to act quickly.
Know the Signs
- Strong, persistent rotation in the base of a cloud
- Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base – tornadoes sometimes have no visible funnel
- Hail or heavy rain followed by dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes, especially in Virginia, are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.
- Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder does
If you see these signs Take cover immediately.
In Wichita Kansas, where I spent my graduate school days, we looked for a few other things, too:
- Green clouds; the research all says greenness does not equal torandoes, but it does equal a pretty big storm. So, if the clouds turn green, avoid them. (I always thought it was some sort of phosphorescence of particles in the cloud under intense static charge, but it's much less glamrous: it's frogs and grasshoppers sucked up--I kid, I kid. It's refracted light. Read here and here. If you want some dude in Australia's take, read here; let's just say, "he's no scientist" but of course many people believe the hogwash anyway.)
- Wall clouds. I'm no expert on these, and you can read here to see what they are. But if you see what appears to be the cloud itself reaching all the way down to the ground, get out of its way. This youtube video shows a time lapse of a wall cloud. Very cool.
- Eerie air pressure change, strong enough you can feel it--at least that's what it seems to me. It's a pit-of-the-stomach feeling. In 2008, I dropped my son off at piano and went to the Barnes & Noble in Seven Corners. Three minutes later, when I got there, the rain had turned to a real storm, and the lights at the store flickered. I went outside, and the heavy, heavy rain and hail, the eerie darkness, and that weird feeling all conspired to make me bolt--no rain gear--to my car and get back to piano. Falls Church, Annandale Road, maybe a couple miles from us, had a tornado, according to the National Weather Service.
All that said, I must admit I love tornadoes; I love watching them and reading about them. In Kansas, too as one might expect, the TV weather coverage of them is light years ahead of what we get here.