Lessons From The Tornadoes of 2020: January – March
Tornado Season 2020 is off to an active start. In the first quarter of the year, our tornado count is 30% above average, with a preliminary total of 192 twisters. And with above-normal warmth in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, most forecasters think our severe weather season will continue to be more active than average. That means we need to learn from the first wave of tornadoes in 2020, so we can be better prepared when more arrive.
Lesson #1: Mobile homes are not the place to ride out a tornado.
They are affordable, portable, and they’re your home in the city or the country. However, if there is a possible tornado heading your way, get out and seek better shelter. The official storm report from the January 11th “Settlement Road” tornado, outside Carrollton, Alabama painted a grim picture. The report states: “Four mobile homes were completely destroyed, three of which had anchoring systems that failed. All four mobile home frames were found considerable distances from the home sites. Three fatalities occurred…”
Lesson #2: RV’s are not the place to ride out any high wind event.
On March 13 straight-line thunderstorm winds struck an RV/trailer camp in Mentone, TX. Winds up to 130 mph flipped and destroyed numerous camper units. Remarkably, only one person was injured in this instance. However, less than a week later on March 19th, a 500-yard wide tornado struck near Sunfield, IL. From the official storm survey: “Five camper trailers were blown over, one was lofted 200 yards across a field.”
Lesson #3: The deadliest tornadoes can hit while you sleep.
On March 3 an EF-4 tornado struck Cookeville, TN around 1:48am. A tornado warning was issued on NOAA Weather Radio ten minutes before the tornado struck. Unfortunately, damaged cell phone towers in that area kept cell phone alerts from reaching many customers. Nineteen lives were lost.
Lesson #4: Have multiple, redundant ways to receive warnings.
In this day and age, you and your family should never be surprised when severe weather strikes. A couple near Benton, TN were lucky to survive a nocturnal tornado strike on March 2. As reported by the Jackson Sun newspaper: “(They) were awoken just after eleven on Monday night to the sound of their carport lifting off the ground and slamming on their vehicles’ roofs. Followed by a tree falling and hitting the back of their house just behind their bedroom.”
Lesson #5: Pay attention to your local weather forecast.
The weather systems that produced all 192 tornadoes from January through March of this year were well forecasted. Moreover, some of the twisters were even predicted days in advance. Occasionally, severe weather does occur unpredicted. But, most of the time we see the ingredients for bad storms well in advance. Then, on the actual day of the event, real-time weather watches and warnings will keep you alerted. Be sure to tune to your local TV weather forecast so you’re always aware that severe weather is possible this week, tomorrow, today, tonight, or right now. Plus, be even safer and more prepared by having an NOAA Weather Radio in your home. That’s how we build a Weather-Ready Nation.