Weatherford Democrat

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March 14, 2014

Tornado awareness

With spring’s arrival, severe weather could soon be arriving, too.

Submitted by Bob Hopkins | WFD Division Chief/Fire Marshal

Now in mid-March, the thought of spring comes quickly to mind but with spring in North Texas comes the threat of severe weather.

It is the purpose of the Weatherford Fire Department to help inform our citizens about how to prepare for spring weather and the threat of tornadoes. An informed public is a well prepared public.

North Texans last May saw how dangerous and deadly tornadoes can be.

Although there is no guarantee on how to survive a tornado, there are three important things to remember: Be aware. Stay informed. Take shelter.

More than 1,000 tornadoes occur in the U.S. annually. Texas reports, on average, approximately 132 tornadoes each year and leads the nation in insurance costs for destructive storms. Tornadoes can happen at any time of the year but typically are more numerous from March till mid-June with May being the month with the most.

In North Texas, deep moisture typically pumps up into the plains from the gulf as dry air stays west. Once that dry air, usually pushed by a frontal passage converges with the warm moist air from the Gulf, thunderstorms develop and it isn’t uncommon for many of those storms to spawn tornadoes.

A tornado is a spiral of warm air being lifted into the cool air of the thunderstorm creating a circular column of wind which can reach speeds on average of 100-300 mph.

Some tornadoes can reach a half-mile wide and travel for a hundred miles. The worst time to look for shelter is when the storm strikes. It’s best to have a plan.

What to do

The following tips can help you formulate a family and work plan long before a tornado strikes.

• Stay informed! Meteorology has come a long way in the last 20 years. Local weather now has the capability, usually to predict severe weather days in advance.

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