The most destructive and devastating product of a thunderstorm, tornadoes are characterized by a twisting, funnel-shaped cloud, which forms from the bottom of a wall cloud and touches the ground. Tornadoes are often accompanied by lightning, heavy rain and hail.

The State of Nebraska averages 35 tornadoes. Knowing tornado safety is your best hope for surviving. Most Nebraska communities activate outdoor warning sirens when Tornado Warnings are issued or a funnel cloud is sighted. Sometimes there is no time to issue a Warning before a tornado strikes. Take care to always be aware of approaching storms and plan ahead.

Watch or Warning

A Tornado Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for them to develop. Be prepared to take action.

A Tornado Warning is issued when radar indicates a tornado, or if a funnel cloud has been sighted. Seek shelter immediately

Take Action

Stay tuned to the media when the watches are sounded and be prepared to seek shelter if a Tornado Warning is issued in your area. The safest place to be when a tornado strikes is in a basement.

If your house lacks a basement, seek shelter in a small room in the middle of the house. A closet or bathroom is best. The more walls between you and the approaching storm the better. Wear shoes and keep a portable radio and flashlight.

If you live in a mobile home, even those with tie-downs, seek more permanent shelter. Arrange beforehand to go to a friend's house or a nearby structure with a basement. As a last resort, go outside and lie flat on the ground with your hands over your head and neck.

In an automobile, never try to outrun a tornado. Get out of your vehicle and seek a strong structure or lie down in a low area.

At work or school, know the emergency shelter plans. If no specific plans exist, go to an interior hallway or small room on the building's lowest level. Avoid areas with glass and wide, freespan roofs.

Tornado Saferooms

Properly built saferooms are proven to save lives in the event of a tornado.  FEMA produces the Taking Shelter From The Storm guideline for saferoom construction and copies are available for download. Saferooms can be built in new and existing structures.  Simply choose the design that best fits your structure, take the designs to a qualified general contractor, and install the saferoom that best fits your needs.