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Colorado’s Tornado Season Is Near: Make Your Safety Plan Today

Colorado Severe Weather Awareness Week Is April 13-19
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Chris Spears By Chris Spears
CBS4 Meteorologist
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DENVER (CBS4) – Another tornado season is upon us, and that means it’s time to make sure you and your family have a plan.

Last June, a rapidly developing severe thunderstorm produced a tornado with very little notice at Denver International Airport. Luckily, they had a plan that they’ve practiced for years. Within minutes, they were able to rush thousands of passengers and employees to safety.

Tornado in Weld County

Ted Ullmann of Greeley took this photo in May 2008 of the tornado that caused heavy damage in Windsor.

Although the tornado didn’t make a direct hit on the main terminal or concourses, it was a close call.

COLORADO TORNADOES

About 90 percent of all Colorado tornadoes touch down between May and August. But don’t let your guard down, tornadoes have been reported as early as February and as late as November.

The majority of counties in Colorado have experienced tornadoes, but they are most common on the Eastern Plains, along and east of Interstate 25. This is because there is often heat and better moisture available to allow thunderstorms to grow.

A tornado can occur during any hour of the day, but are most common between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Colorado.

GET IN, GET DOWN & COVER UP

The best advice for staying safe during a tornado is to remember the phrase, “Get in, get down and cover up!”

In other words, get inside, get down to the lower floor and most interior room of the structure, and cover your head.

It’s ideal to be inside the basement of a well-built structure, a safe room or an underground storm shelter. But if these options aren’t available, then get in the hallway or the smallest interior room you can find, such as a bathroom or closet.

The goal is to have as many walls as possible between you and the outside.

Most tornado injuries are due to flying debris, so you should cover up with things like blankets, pillows or even a mattress; and always remember to protect your head.

If a sturdy piece of furniture is available, get under it in addition to covering up.

MOBILE HOMES, CARS & CAUGHT OUTSIDE

Modular or mobile homes offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned for more sturdy shelter.

If you’re driving and find yourself approaching a tornado, if there’s time, simply drive away.

But if it’s too close and there isn’t time to escape, either pull over and remain buckled in your seatbelt while crouching down, or get out and lie flat in a culvert or ditch, as far away from the vehicle as possible.

No matter where you are and what you decide to do, always remember to protect your head.

One place where you do not want to be during a tornado is under a highway overpass. Although it might feel like it provides decent shelter, winds from the storm can actually get funneled through there and accelerate in speed, adding to the danger.

If you’re caught outside during a tornado and no shelter is available, look for a culvert you can fit into or lie flat in a ditch while covering your head.

HAVE A PLAN AT HOME

Much like schools and large businesses, have a tornado safety plan in effect, it’s important to develop one for you and your family too.

  • Identify a place in your home where your chance of surviving a tornado is greatest, and where all family members and pets will gather
  • Know what county you live in, as well as the cities and counties that surround you
  • Have a battery operated source, such as a NOAA Weather Radio, to receive tornado watch and warning information in case power is lost
  • Have supplies in that designated safe area, such as things to cover up with, bottled water, and a battery powered flash light
  • Know your community’s warning system
  • Practice tornado drills at home
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