Tornado Warnings Issued in Maine, New Hampshire; How to Stay Safe
First off, a massive shoutout to all of the Northern New England news stations that, yesterday, prepped communities for nasty weather today, including tornado warnings that would be issued today.
And as of yesterday, it looked like the warnings were going to be more south of York, Maine, and throughout New Hampshire, not until the evening time. However, updates today have the tornado warnings shifted a bit.
According to CBS 13 in Maine, the tornado warning times have been shifted to more between 2p-7p, and the location has been shifted to south and west of Lewiston, Maine, as well as York County in Maine to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire
After having spent a couple of years living right in the heart of tornado alley, I thought I'd share some quick tips on staying safe today since tornado-anything here in New England is a pretty rare thing.
Tornado Watch vs Tornado Warning
First things first -- there are two terms that have are thrown around in weather forecasts when talking tornados: tornado watch and tornado warning. Since we're more blizzard alley than tornado alley, let me help you sus it out.
A tornado watch is simply that -- watch out for it. The elements for a tornado to form are all in play, and while it isn't an active thing, it's something to watch out for (hence using the word "watch" in the term.)
The best thing to do during a tornado watch is just keep in mind what you'll do and where you'll go if business picks up and things get dicey and funnel decides to form, drop, and hit land. Once it hits land, it's officially a tornado.
A tornado warning means hey, heads up, it's real and it's spectacular and it's happening. A tornado warning (at least in the midwest) won't be issued unless there have been sightings of funnels either forming or officially hitting land.
When you hear the term "tornado warning" used, that's when you want to either pay super close attention to what's going on outside or just say "screw it" and take cover until you're in the clear.
Here are a few tips to make sure you stay safe in the event the area you're in gets hit with a tornado warning:
- Be on the lookout for scud clouds. A scud cloud is basically an abnormal shape in a cloud pattern and is, essentially, quite possibly the beginning of a funnel cloud forming, as seen below.
- Listen for the term "tornado warning." Take it from first-hand experience, until you hear the term "tornado warning" and the news mentions the area you live in having a confirmed tornado spotted, you're just going to cause yourself un-needed stress.
- If you hear "tornado warning" and a command to take cover/shelter, do it. Tornados can 100% form, drop, and destroy in a matter of seconds and a bit out of nowhere. So if you hear the area you live in told to take shelter, don't screw around. Better to be safe than sorry.
- Turn your TV up loud enough or bring a radio with you if you take cover. Don't be like me and sit there needlessly in your closet for hours long after the threat is gone. I mean, sure, cool to be safe, but there's also no need to be ridiculous. Plus, it's important to be informed in a situation like this.
- When taking cover, get to the lowest point of where you live. If you have a basement, go there and make sure you're in an area without destructible items nearby. If you don't have a basement, utilize the crawl space. If you live in an apartment and don't have a basement or crawl space, lay in the tub with a mattress covering you. If you have none of those options, get in a closet on the lowest floor of where you live and put soft, padded items near you -- pillows, blankets, etc.
Probably the most important thing to do, though, is throw your devices on a charger (phones, tablets, etc) so that you always have direct access to news and weather updates as well as the outside world.
Also, on that note, download the RadarScope App. I'm not sure if there is a free version (I pay a subscription from mine since back when I lived in Tornado Alley), but even if there's not, it's worth the money. Not only can you track tornados, but also just any type of weather in general wherever you are geographically.
Odds are, we won't see any tornados in this area. But in the rare, slight chance we do, follow this list and you should come out the other end safe and sound. Or you'll start skipping down yellow brick roads with a lion, a scarecrow, and a pile of tin. Either way, you win.