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Berlin, Germany

What to Do When A Tornado Threatens

UPDATED November 2013

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Mark Hoekzema

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A TORNADO WARNING means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. You must take action immediately!


  • Your school or workplace needs to have an approved tornado safety plan for you to follow. If not then a plan needs to be developed. Every second counts!
  • Go immediately to the lowest level of the building, such as a basement or storm cellar. If there is no basement, go to an interior hallway or room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.
  • Get away from windows! It is not true that opening windows will reduce damage to your home.
  • Avoid large, wide places such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways in shopping malls, theaters, and warehouses
  • Get under a stairwell or a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it. If possible cover yourself with a rug, mattress or blanket. Otherwise, use your arms to protect your head and neck from debris.


  • People in mobile homes and outdoors are particularly susceptible to tornado damage. Go immediately to a neighboring frame home or a storm shelter.
  • If shelter is not available, lie in a ditch or low-lying area a safe distance away from the mobile home. Use your arms to protect your head and neck from debris.


  • There may not be enough time to get to the basement or storm shelter. In this case, interior rooms and halls and central stairwells are the best locations in large buildings.
  • Do not use elevators, and stay away from walls or windows.


  • Never try to outdrive a tornado in a car or truck.
  • Get out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building. If there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle. Be aware of the potential for flooding.
  • Protect your head and neck from debris with your arms.

Make sure that you download the WeatherBug app on your smart phone. The mobile app now includes Spark Lightning Alerts, a GPS-based lightning detection feature providing you the location of the closest lightning strike, so you can Know Before the storm hits. Click here for the link to download.

Be sure to keep WeatherBug active to receive the latest weather in your neighborhood and get the latest updates anywhere on Twitter.


Story Image: This photo was taken by WeatherBug user Bob Wallace in Punta Gorda, Fla., on July 15, 2005.

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