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Due to the environment in which we live, we are more likely to hear a tornado rather than see it. Tornadoes develop from thunderstorms. Thunderstorms in this area have low cloud bases. In the upper Midwest, thunderstorm bases are sometimes several thousand feet above the ground. Locally the cloud bases are less than two thousand feet up. We also have very wet thunderstorms, so tornadoes can hide in the rain to keep from being seen. We have flat ground and numerous trees. This makes it hard for us to see very far even on a clear day – unless we are on top of one of the interstate bridges. While we seldom see the tornadoes that do develop in this area, we are lucky in that they are not very strong. The strongest ever tornado within 100 miles of Lake Charles is listed as an F3 on the Fujita Tornado Scale. Most of the tornadoes around here are usually F0 or F1, they are not very wide, and they stay on the ground for only short distances. These tornadoes are still extremely dangerous.

Take appropriate action whenever you are under a tornado warning. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted or detected on the Doppler Radar from the National Weather Service. If you are in the house, know where the safest place is – an inner hallway if one is available – and head there if you hear anything unusual. If you are in an automobile, chances are you are engulfed in heavy rain. The safest thing to do is to pull onto the side of the road and stop. If you can only see a hundred feet because of the heavy rain, you cannot tell where the tornado might be. Trying to run away from something you cannot see is more likely to cause you to have an accident than your chances of being hit by the tornado if you are stopped. If you are caught outside, stoop down onto the balls of your feet and one hand and brace yourself.

For more information on tornadoes click here.