Tornado Facts

As Severe Weather season is here, here are some tornado facts:

  • Tornadoes are also referred to as cyclones or twisters.
  • A tornado is a violent weather event.
  • A tornado generally has a grey color tint and looks like an elephant’s trunk.
  • The majority of tornadoes have a wind speed than is less than 100 miles per hour.
  • The majority of tornadoes only travel a few miles before they dissipate.
  • The majority of tornadoes only last for a few minutes.
  • Extreme tornadoes can have wind speeds that reach 300+ miles per hour.
  • Extreme tornadoes can travel 100+ miles before they dissipate.
  • Extreme tornadoes can last on the ground for over an hour before they dissipate.
  • There are about 1,000 to 1,200 tornadoes annually in the United States.
  • There are an average of 50 tornadoes a year in Iowa

If we are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately! Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head. Then: Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level.

You should not open windows and should have sturdy shoes on when entering your safe place.

If you are not in a sturdy building, possible actions include:

  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
  • Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seat belt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
  • Lie in an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.

In all situations:

  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
  • Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

Emergency Siren

Ely’s emergency sirens can be activated from the fire station or by Linn County Emergency Management.  These sirens are used to promote situational awareness by alerting citizens who are outdoors of conditions within or approaching the community that pose a hazard.

In the event of severe weather, please look to your NOAA Weather Radio, television, radio or Smartphone for additional information on impending weather and take appropriate actions.

The sirens are tested the first Wednesday of each month at 8:45 a.m.   If a severe weather watch or warning is in effect for Linn County prior to 8:45 a.m. on a scheduled test day, the sirens should not be tested that day.  Outdoor warning siren tests will resume on the next scheduled monthly date.

Click on the Safety Tips link for more home fire safety tips.

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