Tornado watches issued by county, United States, 2013. Source: NOAA NWS Storm Prediction Center at


Tornadoes – defined as a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground – are often formed when warm and cold air masses clash. They are capable of tremendous destruction, creating damage paths in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Tornados speed can vary from nearly stationary to up to 70 mph; however, the wind speed from these formations can exceed 250 mph. Tornadoes are classified using the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Most tornadoes (~88%) are considered weak (EF0 or EF1) and about 95% of all U.S. tornadoes are below EF3 intensity.

In the United States, on average, 1000 tornadoes are reported nationwide each year, resulting in 70 deaths and over 1,500 injuries. They occur most frequently east of the Rocky Mountains during the spring and summer months. Tornado Alley is a nickname given to an area in the southern plains of the central U.S. that consistently experiences a high frequency of tornadoes each year.

Tornados can cause rapid destruction of homes and property, as well as injury and death to humans and animals.

The following resources will help you prepare your family, home and farm, animals and business for tornado situations.

Additional Web Resources

Hazards and Threats: Tornadoes
Website discussing safety in the event of a tornado.
Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN)
Natural Disasters: Tornadoes
Webpage providing information for tornado preparation and recovery
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tornadoes
Website with general information on tornadoes.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Document discussing tornado awareness, planning and protection.
National Disaster Education Coalition
Tornado Preparedness and Response: Strategies for Families
Factsheet discussing how to prepare and actions to take during a tornado situation.
University of Wisconsin Extension
Website discussing emergency preparedness and response to tornadoes
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Tornadoes: Keeping Pets Safe
Website containing information to make a disaster plan for your pets
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)