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Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornadoes and Tornado Safety

While Colorado may not have the tornado activity that states like Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Nebraska has, but we have our fair share of tornadoes each year. Recent bad tornadoes occurred in Holly in March 2007, Windsor May 2008, and near Elbert 2009. Each of those were EF-2 or higher. Pretty impressive twisters for anywhere, let alone Colorado. Here is the EF Scale, which is the scale we use to determine tornado strength: Below is more good safety information from the NWS Office in Pueblo: Tornadoes and Tornado Safety... THIS IS COLORADO SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK...A TIME WHEN THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE REMINDS YOU OF THE HAZARDS ASSOCIATED WITH THUNDERSTORMS. THE TOPICS BEING DISCUSSED TODAY ARE TORNADOES AND TORNADO SAFETY. THE THREAT OF TORNADOES INCREASES RAPIDLY ACROSS COLORADO BEGINNING IN APRIL AS HEAT AND MOISTURE IN THE LOWER ATMOSPHERE BECOME MORE ABUNDANT. ALTHOUGH THE GREATEST THREAT OF TORNADOES IN COLORADO OCCURS FROM MAY THROUGH EARLY AUGUST...TORNADOES CAN AND DO OCCUR DURING OTHER MONTHS. TORNADOES HAVE OCCURRED AT EVERY HOUR OF THE DAY...BUT ALMOST 90 PERCENT OCCUR BETWEEN 1 PM AND 9 PM. WHILE TORNADOES HAVE BEEN REPORTED STATEWIDE...BY FAR THE LARGEST NUMBER DEVELOP IN THE EASTERN COLORADO PLAINS ALONG AND TO THE EAST OF INTERSTATE 25. ABOUT 90 PERCENT OF TORNADOES ARE CONSIDERED WEAK WITH WINDS UNDER 110 MPH. WINDS OF THIS MAGNITUDE WILL DAMAGE A WOOD FRAME CONSTRUCTION HOME...BUT MAY COMPLETELY DESTROY A MOBILE HOME OR AN OUTBUILDING. THEY TYPICALLY HAVE A SHORTER LIFE SPAN OF 5 OR 10 MINUTES...AND RESULT IN LESS THAN 5 PERCENT OF TORNADO FATALITIES. ABOUT 10 PERCENT OF TORNADOES ARE CONSIDERED STRONG WITH WINDS UP TO 165 MPH. WINDS OF THIS MAGNITUDE WILL CAUSE CONSIDERABLE DAMAGE TO MOST BUILDINGS. THESE TORNADOES MAY LAST 20 MINUTES OR LONGER AND TRAVEL GREATER DISTANCES...AND ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR NEARLY 30 PERCENT OF ALL TORNADO DEATHS. VIOLENT TORNADOES ACCOUNT FOR ONLY 1 PERCENT OF ALL TORNADOES...BUT THEY RESULT IN NEARLY 70 PERCENT OF ALL TORNADO FATALITIES BECAUSE THEY DESTROY MUCH OF WHAT IS IN THEIR PATH. VIOLENT TORNADOES CAN LAST OVER AN HOUR AND TRAVEL OVER 50 MILES BEFORE DISSIPATING. THE ONLY CHANCE OF SURVIVING A VIOLENT TORNADO IS TO BE INSIDE A SAFE ROOM OR UNDERGROUND SHELTER. AN EASY PHRASE TO REMEMBER FOR TORNADO SAFETY IS TO GET IN...GET DOWN...AND COVER UP. GET INSIDE A STURDY BUILDING...GET DOWN TO THE LOWEST FLOOR OR MOST INTERIOR ROOM IN THAT BUILDING AND COVER YOUR HEAD. THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE IF A TORNADO APPROACHES IS INSIDE A WELL-BUILT STRUCTURE WITHIN A BASEMENT...PREFERABLY A SAFE ROOM OR AN UNDERGROUND STORM SHELTER. IF NONE OF THESE OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE...MOVE TO A HALLWAY OR A SMALL INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR...USUALLY A CLOSET OR BATHROOM. REMEMBER...THE GREATEST RISK OF INJURY FROM TORNADOES IS FROM FLYING DEBRIS. COVER YOURSELF WITH A BLANKET OR GET UNDER A STURDY PIECE OF FURNITURE. MODULAR HOMES OFFER LITTLE PROTECTION FROM TORNADOES. IF A TORNADO APPROACHES...LEAVE THESE LOCATIONS AND SEEK SAFETY IN A NEARBY BUILDING OR STORM SHELTER. IF YOU ARE DRIVING IN OPEN COUNTRY AND SEE A TORNADO...IF TIME PERMITS...THE BEST THING TO DO IS SIMPLY DRIVE AWAY FROM THE TORNADO PATH. DO NOT TAKE SHELTER BENEATH A HIGHWAY OVERPASS BECAUSE WIND SPEEDS MAY ACTUALLY BE HIGHER IN THESE AREAS AND ARE OFTEN COLLECTION POINTS FOR DEBRIS. IF YOU ARE IN AN AUTOMOBILE AND A TORNADO IS FAST APPROACHING WITH LITTLE TIME FOR ACTION...EITHER REMAIN BUCKLED IN YOUR VEHICLE AND CROUCH DOWN...OR ABANDON YOUR VEHICLE AND LIE DOWN IN A DRY DITCH OR CULVERT AWAY FROM YOUR VEHICLE...AND COVER YOUR HEAD. IF YOU ARE CAUGHT OUTSIDE AND CANNOT SEEK SHELTER INSIDE A STURDY STRUCTURE...CRAWL INTO A CULVERT OR LIE DOWN IN A NARROW DRY DITCH OR RAVINE AND COVER YOUR HEAD. BUT REMEMBER THAT THE WORST PLACE TO BE WHEN A TORNADO THREATENS IS OUTSIDE IN THE MIDST OF FLYING DEBRIS. Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe
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