Tornadoes can occur anywhere. Every state in United States experiences tornadoes. No location is immune. Even though tornadoes do not frequently occur in East Tennessee, they still pose a significant threat. Contrary to popular belief, our local terrain of mountains, hills, and valleys does not protect us from tornadoes.
What is a tornado?
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground.
Watch vs. Warning
|TORNADO WATCH||Issued by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes within the next 3-6 hours.
|TORNADO WARNING||Issued by the local National Weather Service office (ours is in Morristown) when a tornado is indicated by Doppler radar or has been spotted.Seek Shelter Immediately!
If you are in or near a sturdy structure or building…
If you are in a mobile home…
If you are in a vehicle…
If you are outdoors with substantial shelter nearby…
Tornado vs Funnel Cloud
There is a difference between a tornado and a funnel cloud. A tornado touches the ground. A funnel cloud does not. Although a funnel cloud is not in contact with the ground below, they are still VERY dangerous. A funnel cloud indicates that a storm is capable of producing a tornado or has already produced a tornado. Funnel clouds can “drop” and form a tornado very quickly.
As of 2007, the National Weather Service uses the Enhanced Fujita scale (EF-scale) to rate tornadoes.
- Hills and mountains prevent tornadoes. This widespread myth has probably gotten many people killed because they felt their community was immune from tornadoes. While terrain does play a factor in tornado development and our local geography is generally not tornado friendly, the hills and mountains of East Tennessee do not protect us from tornadoes.
- Opening windows will prevent damage. Untrue. If a tornado strikes, it will likely blow your windows out, anyway. Do not waste previous time opening windows when you could be seeking shelter.
- Sirens will sound when a tornado is coming. Most cities and town in East Tennessee do not have sirens capable of alerting the public to severe weather. Even if they did, sirens are difficult to hear indoors and even outdoors due to our terrain. The best way to be alerted to severe weather is by NOAA Weather Radio.
- Tornadoes can occur any time of day, any day of the year
- Tornadoes may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a clouds forms withing the funnel.
- The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but tornadoes can move in any direction and can suddenly change their direction.
- Tornadoes can travel up to 70 mph and can feature winds over 200 mph.
- Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.
- Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water. They can move onshore and cause damage to coastal area.