Inclement Weather Tips

Severe Weather

TORNADO WATCH: Conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms.

TORNADO WARNING: A tornado is imminent (based on weather radar information) or has been sighted by spotters. If a tornado warning is issued for your area - move to your pre- designated place of safety. SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY!

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH: Conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms with damaging straight-line (downburst) winds and/or large hail.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING: Severe thunderstorms with damaging straight-line winds and/or large hail are imminent or are occurring.

Where to Go In Severe Weather:

• In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table, work bench or stairs), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag.

• In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stair well or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against flying or falling debris.

• In an office building: Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building -- away from glass. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter. Stay off elevators- you could become trapped in them if the power is lost.

• In a mobile home: Get out! Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes. If your community has a tornado shelter, go there fast. If there is a sturdy permanent building within close distance, seek shelter there. Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. If possible, use open ground away from trees and cars.

• At school: Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told.  Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.

• In a car or truck: Get out of the vehicle immediately and seek shelter in a permanent building. Do not try to out run a tornado. If there is no shelter, lie flat and face down in a low lying area – be aware of flash flooding, protecting the back of your head with your arms.  Do not seek shelter under an overpass.

The Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management encourages everyone to have a NOAA Weather Radio along with a Family Disaster Plan and Supply Kit.  Visit for additional information.