Today is the annual State of Florida Tornado Drill. Many schools, factories and businesses are actively participating in the drill by practicing their official tornado plan. Today might also be the perfect time to sit the family down together and talk about what to do if you are at home and a tornado warning is issued for your area. Questions to ponder might include where are the safest places to go in your house or apartment and what should you do once you get there? Putting together and practicing the family’s official tornado plan is a great way to make sure your family is prepared for the unexpected!
From the National Weather Service in Melbourne:
…February 1 is tornado and thunderstorm awareness day…
Tornadoes are more frequent in east central Florida than most people realize. Most of our tornadoes occur during the wet season which typically runs from late May through mid October. These tornadoes are usually small and brief…resulting in little property damage and are not a significant threat to life.
However…large long track and deadly tornadoes have occurred in east central Florida during the dry season. The deadliest tornado outbreak in Florida’s history occurred the night of February 22 1998 when several large tornadoes swept across central Florida killing 42 people…destroying 700 structures and causing an estimated 100 million dollars damage. Three of the tornadoes were rated EF3 intensity while another 2 tornadoes were rated as EF2. Then…in the early morning hours of February 2 2007…a supercell thunderstorm produced two EF3 tornadoes over northern lake county…killing 21 people.
These tornadoes occurred late at night when people were sleeping which likely contributed to the large number of fatalities. Tornadoes give much less advance warning than hurricanes…but even a few minutes can make the difference between life and death. Having a NOAA Weather Radio is a critical component of the warning system. Having a weather radio alert you of an approaching tornado, especially in the middle of the night, has saved lives. When a tornado threatens your area…stay inside and go to an interior room without windows. In a multi-story building…go to the lowest floor.
A severe thunderstorm warning is issued when national weather service Doppler radar detects damaging winds 58 mph or greater…or quarter sized hail or larger. Severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings for east central Florida are communicated directly from the Melbourne forecast office to NOAA Weather and All Hazards Radio, to the internet at weather.gov/Melbourne – as well as to local media by way of the emergency alert system*.
* Z88.3 is the official entry point for all severe weather information into the Emergency Alert System.