Tornado Season is Near!

We can never be surprised at the weather we may have in Nebraska this time of year.  A couple of days ago it was 75 degrees and this morning it was in the 20’s. The forecast is for temperatures in the 80s for next week. Two years ago in March the Bomb Cyclone  hit, resulting in devastating flooding which continues to impact us here along the Missouri River corridor. These are just examples that show how extreme the weather can be in Nebraska.  Four years ago we had a couple of tornadoes right here in southeast Nebraska.  A little over a week ago several people were killed from severe tornadoes in Alabama and other southeastern states. Last winter we had extreme weather conditions, warm temperatures some days, the coldest temperatures since the mid-1970s and record snowfalls since the 1960s. The variable temperatures we recently had can potentially develop into severe weather, and even spawn tornadoes.  Each year is different, and 2021 is no exception.  Over the last seventeen years, southeastern Nebraska has been hit hard by a number of tornadoes, with some of them devastating communities! Tornadoes in other regions of the state have taken their toll as well. Remembering this, the last thing you want to hear is that tornado season is near!  Unfortunately it is.  The climate continues to be ever changing, and the weather is extremely unpredictable, so we should be prepared to expect any type of weather this spring and summer.  Temperatures continue to fluctuate from day to day this spring, which can be very conducive to severe weather, including tornadoes.

Are you ready for a tornado?  Do you know what to do if a tornado is headed your way?  With severe weather beginning, it's time to be prepared for tornadoes.  What are some things we should do to be prepared for a possible tornado?  You need to have a place in your home where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way.  It could be in your basement or else in a center hallway, bathroom or closet on the lowest floor if there is no basement.  If you are in a high-rise building, go to a place in a hallway in the center of the building, you may not have time to go to the lowest floor.  Your place of work should also have a tornado plan.  If you are unaware of it, find out what it is.

If there are storm warnings issued for your area, listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.  You need to know the difference between a tornado WATCH and WARNING.  A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area.  A tornado WARNING means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area.  Go to safety immediately.  If a tornado WATCH is issued, listen to your radio and TV and be alert to changing weather conditions.  Environmental clues that indicate a tornado may be developing include: a dark, often greenish sky, a wall cloud approaching and large hail.  Blowing debris may also be a sign of an approaching tornado.  People say a tornado sounds like a freight train.  If a tornado WARNING is issued go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and flying objects.  If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area.  If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety as described above.  After the tornado passes, watch out for fallen power lines and listen to the radio for information and instructions.  Use a flashlight to inspect the damage, never use candles!  A gas line may have ruptured, leaving highly combustible natural gas or propane in the area.

The most important thing is to be prepared for a tornado and don’t take the threat of a tornado lightly.  The destruction and devastation from tornadoes can be unbelievable.                       

Gary Lesoing
Extension Educator
Nemaha County
April 2021