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Tornadoes Can Strike at Any Time of the Year

Know what tornado watches and warnings mean.

While spring is the time of year known for dangerous tornado activity in the United States, recent severe weather supports the idea that some parts of the country also experience a secondary tornado season in the fall and winter months. The American 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.

The Red Cross reminds everyone that 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. If a tornado warning is issued, people should:

  • 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.
  • DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY People should download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of tornadoes and other disasters, as well as locations of shelters. The App also includes emergency first aid information and a Family Safe feature which allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay. The free Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

    More information on what to do before, during and after a tornado is available on

    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.