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NOAA reports that Coweta has seen over 20 tornadoes since 1962 with the last being in November of 2015 near Tommy Lee Cook Road. Coweta’s tornado activity has resulted in no deaths, but 36 injuries have been reported over this time period.
Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard. Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible.
It does not take long for a tornado to form and do its damage. Take a look at one that formed in Georgia last November:
So, what is one to do?
If you are in:
A structure (e.g. residence, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building)
•Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of a small interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
•In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
•Put on sturdy shoes. Put on a helmet, if available.
•Do not open windows.
If you are in:
A manufactured home or office
•Get out immediately and go to a pre-identified location such as the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.
If you are:
The outside with no shelter.
There is no single research-based recommendation for what last-resort action to take because many factors can affect your decision. Possible actions include:
•Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
•Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seat belt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
•Lie in an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
In all situations:
•Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
•Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
•Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.