This is the third of several articles on surviving threatening weather.
Many times when storm damage occurs to buildings, trees or other objects, people automatically say it was a tornado.
The “glamour” of having a tornado seems to overwhelm scientific evidence and common sense.
Although difficult for many to understand, in most years, thunderstorm winds cause more damage, and are more frequent than tornadoes.
In addition, property and crop damage can be more severe from thunderstorm winds than from tornadoes. Thunderstorms winds can exceed 100 miles per hour, while the most common tornado winds are generally not this strong.
Thunderstorm winds some in many forms, sometimes from squall lines or downburst winds.
The most frequently encountered type of damaging straight-line wind in a thunderstorm is that associated with the leading edge of the rain-cooled outflow, known as the gust front. Although most thunderstorm outflow winds range from 30 to 50 mph, on occasion these winds can exceed 100 mph. Downburst-producing storms often give little advance indications of the imminent danger on weather radar or to the spotter, so warnings are difficult to issue.
Severe thunderstorm winds (60 mph or stronger) often cause flying debris, perhaps even in a swirling or rotating motion, but that does not mean the damage was caused by a tornado. Flying debris and significant damage can occur with severe thunderstorms. Take severe thunderstorm warnings seriously!
To be safe from strong thunderstorm winds, go inside a sturdy building but stay away from windows that could break. If available, get to a basement or underground shelter. Large hail and flooding rains may accompany strong winds so be alert to these dangers. Stay informed about the weather at all times.