Tornadoes are one of nature's most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a community in seconds.
Residents should pay close attention to their area's changing weather conditions and prepare for the upcoming threat of tornadoes. They can do this by staying tuned to local radio and television stations or NOAA weather stations.
South Carolina is an area prone to severe weather including thunderstorms and tornadoes. They are especially common during spring, when squall lines and active cold fronts cause the most damage.
Typically, these storms produce high winds, heavy rain and hail. They can also spawn tornadoes, which are black thunderclouds that spin at extremely high speeds.
Tornadoes are one of the most dangerous types of storms. They can damage homes, mobile homes, outbuildings and vehicles.
In the state of South Carolina, there are an average of 14 tornadoes per year. They are typically short-lived EF-0 and EF-1 tornadoes with estimated wind speeds between 65 and 110 miles per hour. More destructive EF-4 tornadoes have been documented, but are not as common.
A tornado forms when a thunderstorm has the right ingredients to cause one. These include abundant low-level moisture, atmospheric instability and a mechanism to lift the air.
Tornadoes can occur at any time of the day or night. They are more dangerous during the night because they often occur when people are asleep and have poor visibility.
In South Carolina, there are three peak periods of activity — April to early June, September and November — when strong cold fronts create tornadoes. While tornadoes can happen at any time of the year, they are more common during these three times.
A tornado spawned from a thunderstorm can be a devastating weather event. These storms can destroy homes and devastate entire neighborhoods.
In South Carolina, we have averaged 11 tornadoes each year since 1950. Those tornadoes killed 47 people and caused 1,057 injuries.
Even if you live in an area where tornadoes don't occur often, it's a good idea to have a tornado plan for your family. It should include identifying the safest room in your home and how to get there.
A safe place to go if a tornado warning is issued is a basement or storm cellar. If you have no basement, get to the center of an interior room on the lowest level away from corners, windows and doors.
Tornadoes are dangerous storms that can rip buildings off their foundations. They can also be powerful enough to lift large vehicles off the ground and throw them many miles away.
A tornado forms when heavy, dark clouds hang low over a town. Then they rumble and twist, drawing the wind from above into their funnel cloud.
Some tornadoes have winds as strong as 300 miles an hour (twice the wind speed of a hurricane), can be two miles wide, and carve paths of destruction that can stretch across dozens of miles.
In the past year, 28 tornadoes ripped through South Carolina, killing nine people and injuring 77 others. Unless you were directly impacted, you may have forgotten this historic outbreak.
Tornadoes in South Carolina are rare but do occur, often accompanied by squall lines and active cold fronts of spring and fall (Figure 7). They can also be spawned by very heavy rain, hail, and lightning.
They can hit anytime of the day or night. They are more likely to happen during the spring and fall months.
If you see a tornado develop, quickly leave the area and find shelter in a sturdy building or storm cellar. Especially if you are in a car, trailer or mobile home, go immediately to the lowest floor of a safe structure.