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Red Cross Responds to Tornadoes, Blizzard and Sandy

the weather conditions in the fall and winter can also produce some strong tornadoes.

The American Red Cross is responding to tornadoes that touched down across the south and a blizzard that buried parts of South Dakota while continuing relief efforts to assist people affected by Hurricane Sandy.

As many as 13 possible tornadoes touched down in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida yesterday, damaging homes and downing power lines. Red Cross workers provided meals and drinks for those affected as well as first responders, distributed clean-up supplies and assisted with damage assessment throughout the affected communities. Shelters were also put on stand-by in case people needed a place to stay.

While spring is the time of year known for dangerous tornado activity in the United States, some parts of the country also experience a secondary tornado season in the fall and winter months. These tornadoes are surprising and dangerous as they form during the night or early morning hours. Although spring weather offers the most dangerous combination of jet stream energy and surface instability, the weather conditions in the fall and winter can also produce some strong tornadoes.

TORNADO SAFETY The Red Cross urges everyone to remember tornadoes can form at any time of the year, and offers steps people can take to be safer should a tornado hit their neighborhood. For instance, a tornado watch means tornadoes are possible in the area. People should be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or someone suspects a tornado is approaching. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated on radar. People should immediately go underground to a basement, storm cellar or interior room of the house.

Some signs of a tornado include dark, often greenish clouds, a wall of clouds or cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or roaring noise. Steps people should remember if a tornado warning is issued include:

  • Go to an underground shelter or safe room if available. A hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is also a safe alternative.
  • Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes. Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home. If you have access to a sturdy shelter or vehicle, get out of the mobile home immediately and go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter.
  • If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building.
  • If you can’t walk to a shelter quickly, immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  • If debris is flying while you are driving, pull over and park. You can stay in the car with the seat belt on, putting your head down below the windows, covering your head with your hands and a blanket if possible.
  • Or, if you can get safely to an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, get out of the car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.
  • SOUTH DAKOTA BLIZZARD Meanwhile 45 people spent Monday night in a Red Cross shelter in South Dakota where a weekend blizzard dropped almost a foot of snow on the region. Bitter cold, high winds and blinding snow closed highways, stranding many travelers. The Brookings County Chapter opened the shelter and provided meals and personal relief items for those affected. Information about how to stay safe during a winter storm is available at the above link.

    SUPERSTORM SANDY Almost 1,900 Red Cross disaster workers are still on the ground in neighborhoods affected by the hurricane, providing relief and comfort to those affected. Since the storm made landfall, the Red Cross has provided more than 81,000 shelter stays, provided more than 8.7 million meals and distributed more than 6.5 million relief supplies.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.