MARYLAND - With tornado season right around the corner, even though they're not frequent, it is still good to know what to do in the even of one. The Caroline County Department of Emergency Services has answered some frequently asked questions, to make sure you are prepared.
What is the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning?
· A Tornado WATCH means tornados are possible in the area due to an approaching storm. You should take a Tornado Watch seriously and watch the sky and listen to radio or television for further information.
· A Tornado WARNING means a tornado has been indicated by weather radar or a funnel cloud has been sighted. The current average lead time of a Tornado Warning is only 13 minutes - so a Warning means it is time to take cover NOW!
What should I be on the lookout for during a Tornado Watch?
Look for a dark greenish sky, a large dark, low-lying cloud which may be rotating, large hail, or a funnel cloud - a visible rotating extension of the cloud base. Listen for a loud roar, similar to a freight train.
How will I know there is a Tornado Warning?
The County uses local outdoor sirens to let people know there is a Tornado Warning. Tornado Warning signals sound different than the usual fire siren. Listen for a wavering tone which goes up and down quickly and lasts for two minutes. Not everyone will be able to hear the outdoor sirens. People too far away from a siren to hear the warning should consider using a NOAA Weather Radio or rely on radio and television alerts.
I think I just heard the Tornado Warning signal, but I'm not sure.
We test our systems at noon on the first Saturday of each month for 30 seconds to ensure they are working properly. If you hear the signal for a short period of time on that day, it is safe to ignore. Real Tornado Warning signals last for two minutes.
How will I know when the Tornado Warning is over and it is safe to leave my location?
When the danger has passed, we will issue a steady signal for 30 seconds. This steady tone is an "all clear" signal.
What should I do when a Tornado warning is issued?
Seek shelter immediately! Go to a safe room - preferably a basement. In buildings without a basement, go to the lowest level and stay in the center of an interior room, closet, or hallway away from outside windows, walls, and doors. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table or cover yourself with a mattress or blanket. Do NOT open windows. Mobile homes or trailers offer little protection from tornadoes, so try to shelter with a close by neighbor.
What do I do if I'm in my car and there is a Tornado Warning?
Seek shelter as quickly as you can or drive out of the tornado's path. If you cannot make it to a safe building, DO NOT hide under an overpass - they provide no shelter. As a last resort, leave your car and lie flat in a ditch or culvert. Find something to hold onto and cover your head.
What should I do after a tornado has struck?
Be on the lookout for downed power lines, objects in contact with downed lines, and dangerous debris like exposed nails and broken glass. Be extremely careful when entering damaged structures. Monitor the radio or television for emergency information. Most importantly, cooperate fully with public safety officials and if you are away from home, don't return until we tell you it is safe to do so.
What else should I do?
Talk to your family about the dangers of tornados. Pick out the safest place in your home to seek shelter in advance and practice getting there quickly. If you want to learn more about how to be ready, give the Caroline County Department of Emergency Services a call at 410-479-2622 or visit our website at www.carolinedes.org <http://www.carolinedes.org> and click the "Weather Information" tab on the right side of the page.