On May 28, 2019, the people of Eastern Kansas and North Eastern Missouri got a first hand lesson on how to survive a 2-hour, one-mile wide tornado. Thanks to the early weather reports and the efficient Doppler radar system, there were only 17 non-life threatening injuries during this tornado. Scientists are now calling it an EF-4 tornado due to the measurement of the wind speeds at the core of the system.
What made this tornado different? Most people and even meteorologists in the area had never seen a system where a tornado was completely concealed and encompassed by a sheer circle of a rain wall. As the tornado moved, it gathered more clouds and more rain, until it became its full size of a mile wide.
The debris field on all sides surrounding the tornado was also massive. For instance, the tornado did not go over the Kansas City International Airport. In fact, it went 30 miles to the North and West of the airport, and then traveled to the East of the airport. However, the debris from the tornado that flew onto the runway, made it impossible for planes to take off and land for the rest of the evening. Most landing flights were cancelled until the next day.
How to survive this type of Tornado or any Tornado?
There are several things to do when a tornado is heading into your vicinity, or is going to be close by. Times have changed in the last 30 years. Warning systems are more efficient and doppler radar has helped weather forecasters and even a rookie like me be able to tell which way a storm system is heading and how fast. Although, tornadoes are unpredictable. They can change direction, which is why someone like me should be in a basement instead of on my porch or in front of the television.
This list below is what saved lives on May 28 and what will help you and your family survive a tornado if you are ever in one of these terrible storms.
1. Have a plan
Families that have a plan in place and know when to take cover are safe and prepared families. This prevents unnecessary panic when a tornado warning is in place.
2. Get to a Shelter
A family plan includes getting to a shelter. There are several different types of shelters to use. The basement is always the best. The closest you can be to underground, the safest you will be. Some people are manufacturing “safe” rooms in their homes for just this reason. This room is reinforced with at least 6 inches of concrete and a steel door. These rooms are usually located on the main floor of a person’s home, business, or school.
The next best option if you cannot go underground, is to get to an inside room of your home. This is an inside closet or a bathroom. Hang onto the plumbing. Put as many layers between you and the outside. Have a mattress from one of the beds to block the area or to place on top of you..
3. Protect Yourself and Your Family from Debris
Everyone should have sturdy shoes on if possible. Each family member should also have a bicycle helmet, football helmet or something to protect each person’s head. Flying debris are like tiny missiles shooting around. Above all else protect your bodies in case of walls and ceiling collapse. A tornado literally splinters anything and everything and even a small piece of debris can fly at incredible speeds seemingly with the force of a high powered air gun.
4. Have a Tornado Kit
A tornado kit should include a weather radio, flashlight, extra batteries, first aid supplies, snacks, water, and have your cell phone handy.
What If I am Not Home?
Most businesses have a plan in place and you will follow their plan. The tornado that hit Kansas on May 28, went through several business areas, and in each situation, people were told calmly where to go to get to their shelters. These plans work there were no critical injuries even though this tornado was on the ground for two hours and skipped through a very large area. The storm did a tremendous amount of damage, but people did exactly what they needed to do to save their own lives and the lives of their loved ones.
On the Road in a Car
Get out of the car and get in a ditch. Try to protect your head and hold onto the ground if possible. Do not go into an underpass. The underpasses act like vacuums and are not safe.
In a Trailer
Get out of a trailer or camper and seek shelter somewhere else. A trailer or a camper will be shredded and turned into rubble. You will not be safe. Get to a storm cellar in the trailer park or a low point in the camp ground, but do not stay in the camper or trailer.
Tornado Safety is Important
It is very important to know how to survive a tornado. In the last 12 days, the Midwest has seen over 100 tornados. Thanks to the sirens, the meteorologists, and friends and neighbors texting each other, people are taking precautions early. Using all the precautions of how to survive a tornado may not save your property, but it will save your life and the lives of those you love.