What Are the Dangers of Tornadoes?

The dangers of tornadoes include flying debris that can destroy property and injure people, and violent winds that lift vehicles and rip off roofs. The primary danger of tornadoes is the flying debris, as this often destroys and injures more than what the winds pick up.

The best way to avoid flying debris in a tornado is to find a solid shelter, such as a basement or interior safe room away from windows. Taking shelter under a table and covering with a mattress or blanket can help protect against falling debris. Areas of the United States where the storms are common have warning systems, but tornadoes can still form and hit with very little warning. In the event of strong thunderstorm systems, the best warning system is alertness and keeping an eye on the sky.

Whirling debris or dust beneath a cloud base can indicate a tornado, as well as heavy rain or hail followed by dead calm or a sudden, intense wind shift. Tornadoes may be hidden in a shroud of precipitation. A persistent roar or rumble that does not fade can indicate an approaching tornado. At night, flashes of light that cannot be identified as lightning may be a tornado snapping power lines in its path.