Despite popular belief, tornadoes are not reserved for Tornado Alley in the mid-west. Venturing out of their habitual territory, tornadoes have been a common occurrence recently in many places that aren’t considered “tornado states.” In fact, areas as far-flung as northern California, Utah, Florida, and upstate New York have all experienced tornadoes of varying degrees of severity over the past year. A tornado, sometimes called a twister or cyclone, generally travels for several miles at speeds of less than 110 miles per hour – though occasionally more in severe cases – before dissipating.
In July, there were tornado warnings across 19 counties in Maryland. The National Weather Service was advising residents in vehicles or outside to head indoors. A severe thunderstorm expelled hail one inch in diameter, which is roughly the size of a quarter, along with winds of 60 miles per hour.
New York was not as lucky as Maryland and did not receive a reprieve. On July 8th, New York was hit by five tornadoes, killing four people in Madison County. In 2014, New York has been hit by a total of eight tornadoes thus far, which is rather high considering 10 tornadoes hit New York every year on average. The unpredictability of tornadoes was demonstrated by this recent hit to New York. Madison County was not in the tornado warning area and forecasters were unable to properly warn residents of the coming natural disaster. In its entirety, the tornado lasted four minutes and took Madison County citizens by complete surprise.
With these records of tornadoes crossing into the northeast, many should consider preparing an emergency kit for natural disasters. Gather necessities like three days’ worth of food and water as well as a battery-operated radio, flashlights and first aid supplies. If you receive warning of a tornado, seek shelter underground or in a room without windows. Mobile home residents should leave and seek shelter in a building. First and foremost, understand the severity of weather warnings. A severe thunderstorm can turn into a natural disaster quickly and emergency preparedness can save lives.