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Emergency Preparedness Brouchures



Enhanced Fujita Scale


Tornado Basics - Know the Signs

  • Strong, persistent rotation in the base of a cloud.

  • Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base – tornadoes sometimes have no visible funnel.

  • Hail or heavy rain followed by dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes, especially in Virginia, are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.

  • Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.

  • If it's night, look for small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These lights are power lines being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.

  • Persistent lowering of the cloud base.


Tornado Watch:   A tornado is possible in your area.  You should monitor weather-alert radios and local radio and TV stations for information.

Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted in the area or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar. When a warning is issued, take cover immediately.







  • Thunderstorms can occur anytime of the day year round.
  • Most commonly they occur during summer afternoons and evening.

  • The National Weather Service (NWS) considers a thrunderstomr severe if it produces at hail least three-quarters of an inch in diameter, has winds of 58 MPH or higher or produces a tornado.

  • Virginia averages 35 to 45 thunderstorm days per year.






Lightning Facts

  • Lightning has killed 63 people in Virginia and injured at least 263 between 1959 and 2005, according to the National Weather Service.
  • A lightning bolt reaches about 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit – or five times hotter than the surface of the sun – and travels nearly one third the speed of light. When you hear thunder, you’re hearing the shock wave that results when the air in and around the lightning bolt expands as the temperature rises from about 70 F to 50,000 F in less than a second.
  • The electricity from an average flash of lightning could illuminate a 100-watt bulb for more than three months.
  • Lightning can strike anywhere from 10 to 15 miles away from a storm’s rain band.
  • A Florida study showed that the average distance between successive lightning strikes was two to three miles. The distance between a vast majority of cloud-to-ground flashes is six miles or less.
  • The sound of thunder travels about one mile every five seconds. When you see a flash of lightning, count the seconds until you hear thunder. Ten seconds means the strike was two miles away.

Ready Virginia  Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Stay Informed