Three confirmed touchdowns near Hettinger occurred Monday evening, according to the National Weather Service.Posted June 5, 2013
By JAMIE SPAINHOWER
Three confirmed touchdowns near Hettinger occurred Monday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
The first was about two mile west of Bowman at 4:15 p.m.
The second was about 30 miles north of Rhame, knocking down some small trees at 5:20 p.m.
At 6:05, wind hit earth 10 miles north of Hettinger, prompting a tornado warning for the next half hour in Adams and Hettinger counties.
These three funnel clouds were part of a line of severe thunderstorms traveling across the region. And while it may be exciting to watch Mother Nature up close and personal, the National Weather Service urges people to immediately seek shelter when storms are on the way.
Before a thunderstorm develops, a change in wind direction and an increase in wind speed, combined with increasing height creates an invisible, horizontal spinning effect in the lower atmosphere.
Rising air within the thunderstorm updrafts tilts the rotating air from horizontal to vertical, causing an area of rotation 2 to 6 miles wide, which no extends through much of the storm. This is the area most storm and violent tornadoes form.
This area is often nearly rain-free.
But in moments, a strong tornado can develop in this area. Large hail and damaging “straight-line” winds also can occur in the storm.
What to watch for
Skies turn dark, often an unusual, greenish color. Large hail, a wall cloud and a loud roar, similar to a freight train are the most common signals a tornado is near.
Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year.
In the southern states, peak tornado occurrence is in March through May, while peak months in the northern states are during the summer.
Note, in some states, a secondary tornado maximum occurs in the fall.
Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 and 9 p.m. but have been known to occur at all hours of the day or night.
The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction. The average forward speed is 30 mph but may vary from nearly stationary to 70 mph.
The total number of tornadoes is probably higher than indicated in the western states. Sparse population reduces the number reported.
What to do
Be prepared in advance of the event. Have a plan with your family on where to go if at home or somewhere else, and an out of state contact person to report to. Have a place to meet when the storm is over.
Make sure to have water, a radio with batteries, flashlight, a first aid kit and blankets or sleeping bags for everyone. Also, a cell phone and charger, even if power is lost.
If outside – get inside a sturdy structure. Head for a basement, or interior windowless room or hallway and get under a heavy piece of furniture. If in a basement, the safest place is under a sturdy workbench, mattress or other protection, and not directly under heavy furniture or appliances on the floor above.
Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned.
If you are in a vehicle, try to drive to shelter if possible.
If flying debris hits your vehicle while you are driving, pull over and park.
Now you have the following options as a last resort:
Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.
Do not seek shelter under an overpass, as it will not protect you and actually acts like a wind tunnel, and doesn’t protect from flying debris, which causes most injuries and deaths.
More information on tornados and other natural disasters can be found at the National Weather Service website – noaa.org.
TORNADO WATCH: Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms.
TORNADO WARNING: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. If a tornado warning is issued for your area and the sky becomes threatening, move to your pre-designated place of safety.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH: Severe thunderstorms are possible in your area.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING: Severe thunderstorms are occurring.
Facts vs Myths
MYTH: Areas near rivers, lakes, and mountains are safe from tornadoes.
FACT: No place is safe from tornadoes. In the late 1980s, a tornado swept through Yellowstone National Park leaving a path of destruction up and down a 10,000 ft. mountain.
MYTH: The low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to “explode” as the tornado passes overhead.
FACT: Violent winds and debris slamming into buildings cause most structural damage.
MYTH:Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
FACT: Opening windows allows damaging winds to enter