If you live in Oklahoma or have been thinking about moving to the state, you’re probably well aware of its reputation as a tornado hotspot.
Tornadoes are actually so common in this state that one could make the argument that tornado season in Oklahoma is actually all year round. However, the frequency of tornadoes in Oklahoma does vary throughout the year.
Typically, late March to August has the highest level of tornadoes, thanks to the potent conditions that are ripe during this time of the year.
In order to understand why Oklahoma is so afflicted with tornadoes, we need to know what conditions lead to these catastrophic events happening in the first place.
This article will cover why tornadoes are so common in Oklahoma, when is tornado season in Oklahoma, and, most importantly, how to spot, prepare and stay safe when a tornado is brewing.
So keep reading to find out all that you need to know about tornadoes in Oklahoma.
How Do Tornadoes Happen?
A tornado is a funnel of air that rotates around as it travels across the ground (also see ‘How Fast Does A Tornado Move?‘). They are created when warm and humid air hits cold dry air.
A lot of the time, this collision can cause heavy winds, rains, or thunderstorms. However, every so often, this creates a tornado. When the warm air starts to rise through the cold air, this creates an updraft.
The updraft will begin to rotate if the winds happen to vary sharply in either speed or direction. This creates more treacherous winds that cause more of an updraft, and very quickly this air can form into a tornado.
Once they move over colder ground, or once the clouds have begun to break up then the tornado will start to die off.
Sometimes twisters will last only a couple of seconds and do not cause much trouble. However, they can also last for hours. They can move in any direction, and cause untold damage to people and properties.
These tornadoes can grow to be over a mile in diameter, and move at upwards of 60 mph (96.56 km/h), depending on the power of the twister itself. Wind speeds around the tornado can reach 300 mph (482.8 km/h), which is one of the most dangerous parts. Also see ‘How Fast Do Tornadoes Spin?‘.
These winds have been known to throw cars, uproot trees, and rip roofs off houses. As well as just completely destroying homes. Though a lot of tornadoes are small and not too worrying, they have the potential to cause untold chaos.
Why Is Oklahoma So Prone To Tornadoes?
Now that we understand how a tornado happens, we can understand a little more about why Oklahoma is so prone to tornados.
Humid air colliding with cold air happens most dramatically during warm weather fronts. This is when a mass of warm, humid air pushes into a mass of cold air.
Typically, warm weather fronts move from the southwest to the northeast, which in North America creates what we call “tornado alley” – an unofficial designation for the strip in the middle of America that experiences the most tornadoes.
These states have a mix of warm humid air coming from the Gulf of Mexico, hot dry air from Arizona, and cool dry air moving south from Canada.
This mix of different climates makes for perfect tornado making conditions, with Oklahoma right smack in the middle of it all. Other states within the tornado alley include Texas and Kansas, as well as Nebraska and South Dakota.
Colorado and New Mexico see some of these issues, but almost none as bad as Oklahoma.
Preparing For Tornadoes In Oklahoma
If you’re going to live in Oklahoma, or any of the tornado alley states, then you need to ensure that you have a solid tornado plan.
Failing to prepare yourself or your family could end in catastrophe. Below are a few things to keep in mind in order to keep you safe when living in Oklahoma.
Memorize Your Tornado Plan
Know which room is your tornado shelter. It must be the lowest room in your house, if it’s underground that’s even better. Pick a room that is centrally located, small, and is as far away from windows as possible.
This room could be a bathroom or a hallway – whichever room in your home matches this description the best.
If you live in a manufactured or mobile home, or anywhere that you don’t think is secure or safe enough to withstand a strong tornado, ensure that you know where your nearest storm shelter is. Or somewhere that you can go that’s going to be safe and plan to stay there in advance if you know that tornadoes are likely to occur.
Have An Emergency Kit Premade
If you don’t already have a disaster/emergency kit, this is your sign to go put one together as soon as possible. This kit could become absolutely essential to you if disaster happens to strike.
This kit should be located somewhere easily accessible so that you can grab it in case of emergency and should contain the following items, as well as anything else that you think is necessary.
- A First Aid Kit
- Cash and ID
- Water and Dehydrated Food (protein bars or cereal bars are great for this kind of thing)
- A Flashlight (wind up is best so you don’t have to worry about batteries)
- Battery Powered Radio or Television
- Spare Batteries for Everything
- Chargers for Cell Phones
- Pet Carrier or Leash (only applicable if you have a pet)
ABC – Always Be Cautious (Of The Weather)
If you live somewhere that is prone to acclimate weather events like tornadoes, then it’s really important that you stay vigilant and know what to look out for in terms of the weather.
There will be signs that a tornado is about to form that you can spot if you know what you’re looking for. These could be any of the following or a combination:
- The sky suddenly growing very dark with a green tint
- Powerful winds that are moving in swirling patterns or noticing clouds rotating
- An incredibly loud noise that sounds like a freight train
- If you spot a wall of cloud in the distance
Act Immediately But Remain Calm
Once you know that a tornado is on its way, it is important that you move quickly. These things can move incredibly quickly and you might not have as much time as you think.
Remain calm and get everyone to your designated area. Have blankets and pillows ready to go, and don’t leave until you know that the danger has passed.
It’s just as important to know what you’re going to do after a tornado, as serious injury can still occur. Have a designated check-in point where you will meet your friends or family afterward so that you all know you’re safe if you got separated.
It could also be good to know where you’re going to stay if your house gets damaged.
If you live in Oklahoma, your tornado season is from late spring to the end of summer. Make sure that you are prepared for when these dangerous events happen, you don’t want to be caught off guard during a tornado.
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