Sunday, March 16, 2014

Warning signs of an approaching tornado during a day hike

Photo courtesy of NOAA
With spring’s arrival, wind storms and tornadoes become more frequent. Unfortunately what may have started as an exceptionally warm spring morning that was perfect for a day hike can quickly turn into a dangerous afternoon of violent storms.

Knowing how to identify the signs of an impending tornado will help you determine if you should either immediately quit the hike or head for cover. Even if a tornado never appears, similar conditions can lead to high winds that also are dangerous.

When on a day hike, look for these tornado warning signs:
g Bad clouds – Two types of clouds suggest a tornado: a supercell and a wall cloud. A supercell is a type of a thunderhead that looks like cauliflower as opposed to an anvil; the winds inside a supercell can reach up to 170 mph. A wall cloud looks like a dense wall with clearly defined edges.
g Green sky – Often the color of the sky will turn a sickly green hue before a tornado strikes.
g Conical-shaped clouds – If a needle-like cloud descends from a cloud’s base, this suggests that air is moving as if around a funnel. You should immediately seek cover.
g Your ears pop – If you haven’t changed altitude, this indicates a sudden drop in air pressure, which usually accompanies a twister.
g Roaring sound – Should you hear what sounds like a waterfall or a lot of wings flapping all at once but there’s no waterfall or birds around, a tornado may be heading your direction.

Related article:
g What to do if a tornado occurs during a day hike

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