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National Severe Weather Week - Tornadoes

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National Severe Weather Week - Tornadoes


Pictured: Tornado safety precautions.
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Florida's Severe Weather Awareness Week continues with – Thunderstorms & Tornadoes.

Florida has the greatest number of thunderstorms in the United States, averaging 70 - 100 thunderstorm days per year. Thunderstorms generate such hazards as lightning, hail, gusty winds, possible tornadoes, and heavy rain that may cause flooding.

Did you know?

Thunderstorms need three things in the atmosphere to develop and grow:

Moisture, instability, and a source of lift.


Since water surrounds Florida and there are so many inland lakes, rivers and swamps, there are plenty of sources of water vapor to feed thunderstorms.

Atmospheric instability is created when sunlight warms the air near the ground and causes the air to rise. The rising air cools causing the moisture to turn into liquid water or ice and that forms clouds and raindrops.

Sources of lift can be an approaching frontal system or a sea breeze boundary forming during a typical summer afternoon. Florida has plenty of both during the year.

Did you know?

All thunderstorms have an updraft, where air rises 7 - 10 miles above the ground.


When severe thunderstorms threaten your location, go to an interior room on the lowest floor of your building and stay away from windows. In vehicles, avoid driving into severe storms; pull over and wait for the storm to pass.

Tornados are one of the most dangerous features a severe thunderstorm can produce and with an average of 4 fatalities per year from 1995-2014, Florida had more reported tornado-related deaths per year than Texas, Kansas and Louisiana.

 Did you know?

Florida ranks 4th nationally in the annual average number of tornadoes


A tornado is a violent column of rotating air that comes down from a thunderstorm to reach the ground. Florida tornadoes come in all shapes and sizes and occur year-round. If a funnel cloud is not touching the ground, it is NOT a tornado.

Tornadoes that form over the water are called waterspouts. Boaters and beachgoers need to quickly move away from them as they can easily flip over a vessel.  


The Florida Keys are referred to as the "waterspout capital of the world".

More than 400 waterspouts occur each year along the Florida Keys alone.

Hundreds of others are also reported along other areas of the Florida coast.

The National Weather Service will issue a Tornado Warning when a tornado is either seen by a severe weather spotter or indicated by radar. Having a NOAA Weather Radio or weather alerting application on your smartphone is a critical component to the warning system as the radio or app will automatically alert you whenever the National Weather Service issues a warning. Having an alert of an oncoming tornado, especially in the middle of the night, has saved lives.

The National Weather Service and the Florida Division of Emergency Management will conduct a statewide tornado drill today at 10:00 am EST/9:00 am CST. Floridians are asked to consider themselves under a tornado watch during the morning. At 10:00am EST/9:00am CST, the National Weather Service will issue a "Routine Weekly Test" message instructing persons to enact their local tornado sheltering procedures. The drill will conclude around 10:30 am EST.


A Tornado Warning means a tornado has been indicated by radar or spotted on the ground.

A Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop.


If a Tornado Warning is issued for your area, seek shelter immediately! Seek shelter on the lowest floor in an interior hallway, closet or small room of your home or office. The best safety advice is to get as many walls between you and the outside as possible. Stay away from windows and doors and use pillows to cover your head. Leave mobile homes and find a stronger building or house.

If caught outdoors, your options are not ideal, but you can still take action to survive. When outside, try to seek shelter in a nearby structure. If this is not possible, try to get as low as possible, such as a creek bed or ditch, and cover your head. Do not seek shelter under bridges or overpasses and do not try to outrun a tornado.

More information about thunderstorm and tornado hazards and what you can do to protect yourself and others can be found at and