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Today we have Tornado, Hail and Flood Warning in Harris, Fort Bend and Waller counties. Please use extreme caution.
Know what to watch for. Tornadoes usually only develop in the presence of thunderstorms (though the thunderstorm may be some distance away from you), so lightning, rain, and hail (especially if occurring after a tornado watch or warning has been issued) should put you on guard. In addition, watch out for the following:
- Darkening skies, particularly if the sky appears a sickly greenish color (indicating hail) or an orange-y color (dust being blown around by high winds)
- Strong, persistent rotation of the cloud base
- Very calm and quiet conditions during or right after a thunderstorm
- A rumble or roar that sounds like continuous thunder or, sometimes, a train or jet
- Whirling debris near the ground, even in the absence of a funnel cloud.
- Blue-green or white flashes at ground level in the distance at night - a sign of power lines being snapped by high winds
Stay informed. Even if you know the signs of a tornado, you can't always rely on your own eyes and ears alone to know if one is coming. Listen to local radio stations or watch local TV to stay informed, especially during conditions that are likely to form tornadoes. Also purchase a "Self Powered" Radio/Flashlight combo unit. This thing will allow you to keep informed, doesn't use batteries and you'll have light. See entry about finding and using "Self Powered" Radios listed below.
- In the U.S. the best way to get information about severe weather is to get a NOAA weather radio. These can be purchased cheaply at most big box retailers and outdoor supply stores. If possible, find one with backup battery power and a tone-alert feature which automatically notifies you when the National Weather Service issues a severe weather watch or warning for your area.
- Find a website with a local radar link or page. This will give you a real-time look at storm cells in your area, and because you can see the intensity and direction of movement of storm cells and systems relevant to your home, you can judge more accurately when precautions should be taken. Several weather websites have this feature.
- Find out if your community has tornado sirens and learn what they sound like. If you hear these sirens, seek shelter immediately.
Listen for tornado watches and warnings. The National Weather Service in the U.S. issues both watches and warnings for severe weather.
- A tornado watch indicates that conditions are right for tornado development and tornadoes are possible in your area. If you hear a tornado watch or a severe thunderstorm watch, you should pay special attention to weather conditions.
- A tornado warning indicates that a tornado has been seen in your area or that radar indicates the presence of a tornado. If a tornado warning is issued, you should seek appropriate shelter immediately.
- A tornado emergency means that a tornado warning has been issued and it is heading toward a densely populated area. Seek appropriate shelter immediately and listen for additional weather reports.
A severe thunderstorm warning means that a severe thunderstorm has been spotted in your area, and you should take appropriate precautions and watch for tornadoes.
- Keep maps of your local area handy so that you can identify the location of a storm when it is reported on the radio.
Identify appropriate shelters at home, work, and school. When a tornado strikes, you often don't have time to search for an appropriate place to seek shelter. Think about where you'll go ahead of time so that you'll be ready in the event of a storm. For more information on where to seek shelter, see this article. In general:
- Check the structure of your home. In the event you are in your home when a tornado strikes, you should know what area is the most structurally capable of withstanding the force of the tornado. If you have a tornado shelter, that is the best place to go, and if you live in an area that frequently experiences tornadoes, you should consider building such a shelter. Otherwise seek shelter in a basement or, if you don't have a basement, in an interior room (particularly a bathroom) on the first floor of your house.
- Know where to go at work or school. The general rules for seeking shelter at home also apply at work or school. If you are in a tornado-prone area, your workplace or school may have a designated shelter.
Prepare a family disaster plan. If a tornado or other disaster strikes, communicating with your family may be difficult or impossible. Plan ahead to make sure everyone knows what to do in the event of a disaster. You should also maintain a disaster supplies kit at all times. If your workplace or school doesn't have a disaster plan in place, work to develop one.
Understand that if a tornado strikes, you may be without power and water for some time. Stock up on canned goods, crackers, and other non-perishables like cereal (dry cereal like frosted flakes). Also stock up on water, have enough per person for a week. Know that each person consumes about one gallon of water per day. If you have special medications or pet needs, provide for that as well.
- Call a water restoration company who can help you extract surface water.
- Do not drink tap water until officials deem it safe.
- Report the loss to your agent.