According to The National Storms Laboratory, tornado season begins in March and can last until July, depending on the region.
The U.S. National Weather Service in Paducah reports that April and May are the peak months for tornadoes in the region.
Terry Dossett, the director of the Emergency Management Agency in McLean County, said the last major tornado to hit McLean County was on Jan. 23, 2002 in Calhoun.
In the event of a tornado, Dossett recommends seeking shelter within your home.
“You want to go into the smallest room, which is more than likely the bathroom,” he said. “Bathrooms are usually in the middle of the house. Whatever room you can get your family into works, unless you have a basement. Basements are the best for tornadoes.”
Dossett said getting into a bathtub with a covering, such as a table, would be the best plan of action for someone without a basement or underground area.
According to Dossett, McLean County does not have any tornado shelters to his knowledge. However, he said some churches in the county will open after a tornado occurrence for those who need shelter and assistance.
Along with serving as the director for the McLean County EMA, Dossett is also the fire chief for the Sacramento Fire Department. He said one of his goals is to make the SFD into a tornado shelter.
Dossett also suggests to purchase a weather radio and to stock up on enough food and water to last at least 24 hours.
The NWS in Paducah provided tips for tornadic weather as well. They suggest getting underground if possible. If it’s not possible, go to a small interior room on the lowest level, such as a bathroom, closet or hallway. They also suggest putting as many walls as possible between you and the outside. If you live in a mobile home, they recommend finding shelter elsewhere.
NWS in Paducah also reports that flying debris are the cause of most injuries or deaths during the event of a tornado.
Tips to avoid debris include laying low to the ground, covering yourself with pillows and blankets, wearing a helmet and good shoes, getting under a sturdy piece of furniture, staying away from windows and glass and not waiting until the last minute to take shelter.
For individuals who are driving when a tornado warning is given, Paducah NWS suggests getting off the road and into a designated shelter, basement or safe room. If that is not possible, they recommend finding a small, windowless room or hallway on the lowest floor of a building.
Dossett said he stresses the importance of knowing the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
According to the NSSL, a tornado watch is when conditions are favorable for a tornado and severe weather. A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted or indicated by the radar.
The tornado sirens in McLean County are tested every Friday at noon.
Karah Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org