Tornado season is on the way. In the United States, tornados tend to move northward; they may be spotted from late winter to mid-summer, according to the specific area. Northern states see the most powerful tornados touch down in June and July, while tornado season in Gulf coast states tends to be strongest in the spring. Tornado Alley, a strip of land across Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, southern Minnesota and South Dakota, typically sees the most severe storms in late spring.
Whenever tornados most frequently appear in your area, it’s important to be prepared. This article reviews recent tornado statistics, and offers predictions on how this year will stack up. It also examines the advantages of including a high power LED flashlight in your tornado emergency kit. Finally, you’ll find a list of other helpful survival items to include in your kit, other than an LED flashlight.
Recent Tornado History and Predictions for Twisters in 2012
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), 2011 was one of the deadliest tornado years on record, with 1,691 tornado spottings, the second-highest number on record. Climatologists say that the La Nina weather pattern (in which Atlantic and tropical sea surface temperatures are lower than normal) contributed to the 2011 tornado season by creating an extremely strong jet stream, a key component in all severe weather systems.
How will this year’s tornados compare to last year’s? Well, there’s really no way to predict where or when a tornado will touch down, so it’s hard to say. Still, we can understand the basic ingredients that go into a tornado’s birth. The simple explanation for how a tornado forms is that warm, moist air meets cool, dry air, causing an invisible whirling effect closer to the ground. If rising air shifts the spinning movement to a vertical orientation, a twister could be born. A tornado is possible, therefore, any time two fronts of different temperatures come together. Tornado Alley sees more than its fair share of twisters because it lies in the zone where humid, warm air from the Gulf of Mexico clashes with cool, dry air blowing off the Rocky Mountain range.
Scientists are warning that 2012 could be a doozy of a year for tornado formation. In February, Accuweather.com predicted more tornadoes than average will touch down on American soil this year. Contributing to this prediction is the fact that water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico have been warmer than normal. Warm ocean water means more powerful storms. Accuweather.com warns that the lower Ohio and mid-Mississippi valleys could see especially violent tornadoes this year. Mike Smith, senior VP of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions, has said, “If I were in the South or Ohio Valley, I’d be extra prepared this year.”
But really, it’s smart to be prepared for a tornado if there’s even a weak history of twisters in your area. Tornadoes are very difficult to predict. Most of them last fewer than ten minutes, and because they form and dissipate so quickly, it’s hard for officials to get out tornado warnings far in advance. The more prepared you are as a homeowner, the better off your family and property will be if a tornado strikes.
Why Every Tornado Preparation Kit should Include a High Power LED Flashlight
1. Durability. A high-quality LED flashlight such as the HP14 from COAST is typically of higher construction quality than your average incandescent flashlight. The HP14 LED flashlight boasts a heavy-duty aluminum casing and high impact resistance.
2. Bright light. When compared side-by-side, a high power LED flashlight is usually far brighter than an incandescent counterpart. Brighter light allows you to see farther, a crucial advantage in any disaster.
3. Long battery life. An LED flashlight will almost always provide light for a longer duration on the same set of batteries than an incandescent bulb. This is rooted in LED technology, which is extremely energy efficient.
4. Lightweight, easy to carry. With a tornado, you never know when you might need to be on the move. A lightweight LED flashlight will be easier to carry than an outdated incandescent clunker of a torch. Because they require fewer batteries, LED flashlights are usually lighter than older models.
5. Unique features, such as the ability to toggle between high and low power settings. The HP7 Titanium from COAST can switch from a 58-lumen setting to a 251-lumen setting. This kind of thoughtful feature makes it easier to use your LED flashlight in a masterful way during an emergency. Plus, the low setting will extend your battery life, meaning you don’t have to lug around quite as many batteries.
To conclude, every tornado preparation kit should contain at least one high power LED flashlight. If it’s possible, include an LED flashlight for every person in your family. Your tornado preparation kit should also include food and water for each family member, a battery- or hand-crank-powered radio, extra batteries and moist towelettes. To find a complete listing of emergency kit components, visit Ready.gov.