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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Tornado Truths: Test Your Tornado Knowledge.

Tornado Truths: Test Your Tornado Knowledge.

True or False:

1. On a local scale, tornadoes are the most destructive of all atmospheric phenomena.


2. Tornadoes can appear in many other parts of the world, but they occur most frequently in the United States.


3. The strongest tornadoes have rotating winds of more than 100 mph.

True, some of the strongest tornadoes have winds up to 250 mph.

4. Tornadoes always give you a warning when they’re coming.

False: Sometimes tornados strike quickly with little to no warning. Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or low-hanging clouds may hide others.

5. The following are two signs that could forewarn you of an impending tornado: still and quiet conditions, a green sky.

True. While many people might think that tornadoes follow intense thunderstorms, many times (but not all), right before a tornado, the air may go suddenly still and quiet. If you ever see a sky get suddenly dark and greenish in color, you should check your local forecast. While a green sky alone doesn’t indicate that a tornado is definitely coming, it is one of the first signs that tornadoes give of their presence

6. Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 12 and 3 pm.

False: They are actually most likely to occur between 3pm and 9pm, but can occur at any time.

7. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

True. If you find yourself under a tornado warning or actually witnessing a tornado, seek shelter immediately. If you are outside with no shelter, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

8. The lowest level of a shelter is the safest spot during a tornado warning.

True: Basements and storm cellars are safest during tornados. If you can’t go to a lower level or basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open windows.

Terms to know:

“Tornado Watch” indicates that severe storm conditions are expected to surface in your area, and could result in a tornado. Remain alert for approaching storms. Know what counties or parishes are in the watch area by listening to your local radio/television station.

“Tornado Warning” indicates that an actual tornado has been sighted in your area, or is indicated by weather radar.

Information courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (


1 Regena { 05.10.14 at 9:07 am }

well it was scary

2 Kathryn Aqua { 04.29.14 at 1:22 pm }

I believe they are saying leave the windows as they are. Focus on getting yourself and your family to safety vs. taking time to open (or close) windows. They used to say to open the windows, because they thought closed windows made the house explode. This is no longer considered to be true. For one thing, if the windows are closed, the flying debris is going to break them anyway. If your windows are closed, leave them closed. If they are open, leave them open. Go to your safe place and don’t worry about the windows!

3 Regena { 04.29.14 at 2:13 am }

We took a direct hit by an EF-4 tornado in Crittenden March 2, 2012. Our saving grace was the fact that our house was over 150 years old and solid. It destroyed our house, barns, cows etc., but we were in the hallway. My grandbabies and their dad was in the closet beneath the steps. We couldn’t get my youngest daughters wheelchair in there so her sister and I rode it out in the hall with her. Yes the sky did get a greenish cast to it . Yes it sounded like a train . We live near a double track. No we didn’t see it. It was behind a wall of water. I sent everyone to the center of the hallway because I started hearing glass breaking in the living room after I had closed the pocket doors.

4 Kat { 04.28.14 at 8:44 pm }

We had a tornado that didn’t quite touch down in our neighborhood a couple of years back that happened around 1 a.m. It was the change of atmosphere and light show that woke us up! Lightning was flashing in all directions and the air pressure changed drastically. We awoke to green-tinted blackness then plentiful rain blowing sideways. Our poor cat was outside, trapped under a neighbor’s panel truck and there was no way to go get him with the stuff flying around. Luckily, he made it through the storm a-ok, but he was spooked for days. The damage just from that event was incredible – we had eight to ten feet of limbs covering the entire back yard (not a small yard). The funnel moved on to touch down elsewhere.

5 Buffi { 04.28.14 at 6:33 pm }

I agree, Richard. I have seen several living in Oklahoma and have never made the “Train” correlation. They always sounded like jet planes, to me. Also, I always noticed the sky being an unusually crazy pink or orange color just before a tornado versus green.

6 Richard { 05.26.12 at 2:01 pm }

I personally survived the May third tornado which was the storm with the srongest winds ever recorded. At that speed it sounded more like a jet taking off to me. It is something that I would never foreget. You kow something though, I am not afraid of tornades at all. When you liove in Oklahoma most of you life it is something you kind of get use to.The reason why this part of the country is known as tornado alley is because we are close to the gulf and also close to the Rockies.
Warm moist air comes up form the gulf and cool dry air comes down from the rockies.
These air masses come togeather over North Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas thus we have tornades.

7 robert young { 11.14.11 at 12:49 pm }

i do not like TORNADO

8 Rosemary Dias { 04.20.11 at 1:44 pm }

Very helpful information. I live in hurricane country but there have been tornadoes here on occasion. I actually witnessed two very strong tornadoes when I lived in Atlanta. I will never forget the sight of the tornadoes or the sound of the freight train. Very, very helpful information in this article. I didn’t know about the green sky. Going to share this with my friends every where.

9 Sandi Duncan { 04.20.11 at 10:53 am }

Thanks for your question Patricia,
According to some additional research the old theory was to keep windows open but NOW they are saying that windows should stay shut. Researchers realize that wind blowing into open, or broken, windows pushes up on the roof. At the same time, wind blowing over the roof is making it act like an airplane wing that generates a lifting force. If the roof lifts off, the walls can fall outward, making it look like the building exploded.

So it’s best to keep them closed.

10 Patricia Sharr { 04.20.11 at 10:24 am }

This is a nice article.Could be life saving!Is there a reason that the windows should not be opened?Ps I love this site.

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