Certain areas of our planet have just the right set-up for tornadoes. The USA leads the world tornado count because:
- We are midway between the cold north pole and the warm equator, setting up numerous warm-moist/cold-dry air collisions.
- Our location on the globe puts us directly beneath the upper-level jet stream winds that intensify the weather.
- We have large flat areas in the Great Plains, Midwest and Southeast that allow uninterrupted air movement, north-south and east-west.
- We have a high mountain range (the Rocky Mountains) that not only focuses warm-moist/cold-dry air collisions in the flatlands, but also strengthens low pressure systems as they descend into the plains.
For most of the US, winter sees a drop in tornado activity because the air is too cold to produce towering thunderstorm clouds. But even in the coldest winters the waters of the Gulf of Mexico remain relatively warm and are a continued source of thunderstorms. Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and especially Florida can get hammered by winter tornadoes, and because they strike in what many consider the “off season”, these twisters catch people off guard.
If you live in (or near) the Gulf Coast states, a NOAA Weather Radio should be standard equipment in your home, your school, and your office. No one “expects” a tornado on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Day, but they happen, and without a weather radio to alert you of a tornado watch or tornado warning, you may think the dings and bells you hear on your cell phone are messages of holiday cheer. A weather radio is an indoor tornado siren designed to make sure you receive an unmistakable, un-ignorable signal that trouble is coming toward you.
Tornadoes are most dangerous when they are least expected – overnight, or in an unlikely season like winter, when your guard is down. Remember: a NOAA Weather Radio watches over you and your family every hour of every day of the year. Regardless of whether you’re paying attention to the weather or not, your weather radio always is. Get one and use it. It’s peace of mind for just pennies a day.