What is Considered Tornado Season in Tennessee: Most Tornado Activity Occurs Between March and May.

Here’s what you need to stay safe.

March through May marks a transition from winter’s cold air to the warmer temperatures of spring and summer, creating a volatile mix of atmospheric conditions conducive to tornado formation. It’s a time when communities need to be vigilant to stay safe, as tornadoes can cause significant damage and even fatalities. Tornadoes, among the most prevalent natural disasters in the United States, result in an average of 80 fatalities annually nationwide.

How do tornadoes form?

Understanding how tornadoes form is crucial for preparedness. They originate as violently rotating columns of air extending from thunderstorms, fueled by wind differentials that support intense rotation. While there’s no exact formula for tornado formation, the presence of warm, moist air near the ground interacting with cooler, drier air aloft is often a key factor.

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What parts of the country typically see tornadoes?

Tornadoes aren’t limited to Tennessee; they occur most frequently in states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, with April being the peak month for tornado activity nationwide. The scale used to measure tornado intensity is the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which categorizes tornadoes based on wind speed. It comprises six classifications:

EF-0: Wind speeds of 65-85 miles per hour
EF-1: Wind speeds of 86-110 miles per hour
EF-2: Wind speeds of 111-135 miles per hour
EF-3: Wind speeds of 136-165 miles per hour
EF-4: Wind speeds of 166-200 miles per hour
EF-5: Wind speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour

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Outside the U.S., tornadoes can happen on any continent except Antarctica, with notable occurrences in countries like Argentina and Bangladesh. 

Understanding safety protocols during tornado warnings is essential for minimizing risk. 

When indoors in a residence or small structure, it’s advised by the weather service to:
  • Seek shelter in the basement or the lowest floor available.
  • If there’s no basement, take cover in a closet, bathroom, or interior hallway, ensuring it’s away from windows. Aim to be in the central part of the building.
  • Utilize items like blankets, pillows, cushions, sleeping bags, or mattresses to shield yourself from potential flying debris.
In larger establishments such as schools, hospitals, factories, or shopping malls:
  • Head to designated shelter areas as instructed.
  • Avoid being near windows.
  • Kneel on the floor against a wall and place your hands over your head for protection against airborne or falling debris.
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