According to reports from Texas, six people were killed when tornadoes swept through North Texas this week, the deadliest such storm in that area since 1957, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
With the deaths and devastation left behind by this week's deadly tornadoes in Texas, many people are probably wondering how they can protect themselves in the event of similar severe weather.
1. Prevention and practice before the storm
Have family tornado plan in place, based on the kind of dwelling you live in. Know where you can take shelter in a matter of seconds, and practice a family tornado drill at least once a year. Flying debris is the greatest danger in tornadoes; so store protective coverings (e.g., mattress, sleeping bags, thick blankets, etc) in or next to your shelter space, ready to use on a few seconds' notice. When a tornado watch is issued, think about the drill and check to make sure all your safety supplies are handy.
2. Know the signs of a tornado. Here are some things to look and listen for, according to the SPC:
Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base -- tornadoes sometimes have no funnel.
Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
Day or night - Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
Night - Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
Night - Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning -- especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.
Related External Content
Want answers to frequently asked questions about tornadoes? Click HERE for more from the National Weather Service.
Is there a possibility of severe weather in your part of the country? Visit the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction center by clicking HERE.
Want to follow the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center on Twitter? Click HERE to see the SPC's feed.