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Tornado Facts and Safety

Tornado Facts

Tornadoes can range in intensity. Wind speeds are measured on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which was implemented in February of 2007:

  • EF0 = 65 – 85 mph winds
  • EF1 = 86 – 110 mph winds
  • EF2 = 111 – 135 mph winds
  • EF3 = 136 – 165 mph winds
  • EF4 = 166 – 200 mph winds
  • EF5 = Over 200 mph winds

Tetsuya Theodore "Ted" Fujita (1920-1998) developed the original Fujita Tornado Intensity Scale. The scale was changed to the “Enhanced” Fujita Scale in 2007, after more information about the destructiveness of tornadoes had been scientifically examined. The estimated wind speeds were updated, and more specific damage requirements were set. Tornadoes are now measured AFTER damage has been assessed, days after a tornado strikes.

The size of a tornado is not necessarily a measure of its intensity. Larger tornadoes can be weaker and less violent than smaller tornadoes that have more intense winds. Tornadoes in the EF0-EF2 range are much more likely to develop than stronger ones, but all tornadoes can be deadly. Following these tips could save your life.

Tornado safety tips

1. Have a plan in place:

  • Know in advance exactly what to do when a tornado nears.
  • Know where to take shelter in seconds.
  • Practice home tornado drills with your entire family.
  • Have your kids draw a picture of their home with their “safe place.”

2. The best shelter is a tornado shelter, or an interior room like a closet or bathroom on the lowest level of your home, away from glass or windows.

  • Bring pillows and blankets to cover yourselves from falling debris and wear bike helmets to protect your head.
  • Have a flashlight and a battery-operated radio to take into your shelter with you.
  • You may even turn your television volume up loud enough so that you can hear severe weather alert updates.

3. If you live in a mobile home:

  • Get out!
  • Find the nearest shelter, like a neighbor’s house.
  • If no other shelter is available, it is safer to lie down, as low as you can, such as in a ditch, outside, covering your head with your hands.
  • Even if your mobile home is tied down it is not a safe place during a tornado.

4. If you’re in your car:

  • Get out!
  • Find shelter in a sturdy building. If you don’t see one, find a ditch away from trees and other cars.
  • Lie down in the ditch with your hands covering your head.
  • If there’s no ditch, find an open area of land away from trees and cars. Lie flat on the ground and cover your head with your hands.

Tornado flattens buildings near Birmingham, Alabama

A tornado damaged several businesses outside Birmingham, Alabama, onTuesday.

>> Read more trending news

Meteorologist Jason Holmes said buildings, including a liquor store and a fast-food restaurant, in the suburban community of Fairfield, west of the city, were reported damaged.

Holmes also told The Associated Press that trees were down and buildings were reported damaged along the Interstate 20 corridor on the southwestern outskirts of Birmingham.

Photographs on social media showed what appeared to be a funnel cloud in the air in the Birmingham area.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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At least 4 dead, dozens injured as tornadoes hit eastern Texas

Tornadoes tracked across parts of Texas on Saturday, leaving behind a swath of damage, injuring dozens of people and killing at least four, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Preliminary reports to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth indicated that as many as three tornadoes raked over parts of Henderson, Van Zandt and Rains counties in eastern Texas. Crews will survey the damage Sunday to determine the strength of the twisters.

"We have a lot of injuries," a dispatcher with the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Office told KXAS-TV. The dispatcher added that there was “a lot of damage.”

At least five people were killed in the storms, according to KTVT. None of the victims have been identified.

One person was found dead in a pasture in Canton, the Ben Wheeler Volunteer Fire Department told KTVT. The Canton Fire Department told KXAS-TV that another person was killed along Highway 64 when a tornado threw the person’s vehicle.

Nearly 50 people were taken to hospitals with a variety of injuries after the tornadoes struck, including one with critical injuries.

A dispatcher at the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office told The Associated Press that “officers were chasing numerous injury reports.”

Video from local television stations shows uprooted threes, damaged homes and overturned cars along roadways.

EF2 tornado destroys Missouri fire station, damages school

The National Weather Service said a tornado that left behind damage Tuesday night in Goodman, Missouri, had the strength of an EF2.

>> Read more trending news

The designation means wind gusts reached speeds as high as 135 mph.

Severe weather destroyed the Goodman fire department and left extensive damage at the local elementary school. At least one apartment complex was also damaged.

>> Photos: Damage from Goodman tornado

One person was taken to the hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening.

School is canceled Thursday for the Neosho School District, including Goodman Elementary School.

The mayor of nearby Anderson is asking people to conserve water, because power is out to the water towers after the storm.

Goodman is a town of just over 1,200 people in southwest Missouri, according to 2010 U.S. Census data.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Reports: Tornado strikes New Orleans area

The New Orleans area was struck by severe weather Tuesday morning, including reports of a tornado.

According to NOLA.com, there are reports of damage after a tornado struck New Orleans East. 

Severe weather is continuing in the region.

This is a developing news story, return for updates.

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At least 15 dead in severe storms across Georgia

At least 15 people died in Georgia as two rounds of severe weather swept through over the weekend.

North Georgia avoided the deadly storms and tornadoes that hit South Georgia on Sunday afternoon, but did have a few severe storms move through.

>> Read more trending stories

In Gordon County, strong winds knocked down trees and power lines, closing several roads. There was also widespread flooding in the county. Gordon County Schools decided to close on Monday because of the damage and closed roads.

Albany's fire chief confirmed a tornado touched down around 3 p.m. Sunday. The same tornado also hit East Albany, leaving significant damage.

At least four people died in the area, bringing the overall toll to at least 19 people killed over the weekend by a severe weather system sweeping the Southeast.

>> Related: Severe weather kills 19 in Georgia and Mississippi; death toll could rise

Local officials say search and rescue operations are underway after a reported tornado caused widespread destruction in the county Sunday evening.

Before the three latest deaths were confirmed, Georgia officials had reported 12 deaths statewide.

Four died Saturday in Mississippi.

During a news conference Sunday afternoon, President Donald Trump promised federal help for Georgia communities hit by the storms.

11 killed in first round of severe storms

Eleven people were killed and 23 injured after strong storms moved through Georgia Saturday night into Sunday morning. 

Following the storm, Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for seven south-central Georgia counties: Atkinson, Berrien, Brooks, Colquitt, Cook, Lowndes and Thomas. 

Seven of the 11 people who died in the tornadoes were killed at a mobile home park in Cook County, Coroner Tim Purvis said. 

"All you hear is people screaming, 'Help me, help me,'" said AJ Miley, who lives in the Sunshine Mobile Home Park.

Devocheo Williams said he walked out of his mangled trailer to see his neighborhood and neighbors being tossed through the air.

"All I saw was a little girl flown up and thrown in a ditch. Three seconds later, the trailer got picked up off the ground and landed on top of the mother and son," Williams said. 

The trailer park is located on Callie Harris Road, south of Adel. Most of the 40 homes in the park were either damaged or wiped out altogether.

"It's heartbreaking," said Edward Allen, who spent the day looking for survivors and clearing debris. "It's really affected our community."

Authorities told Thomas that about two dozen people were hurt in the county, some very seriously. They said the number of deaths could rise.

Two people died in Brooks County, Sheriff Mike Dewey said. Both were in the same home in Barney that was displaced into Highway 122. 

The Berrien County Sheriff's Office also confirmed that at least two people died during the storm.

Berrien County Coroner Robert S. Lovein Jr. said the damage is extensive and "terrible."

At least three more injuries were confirmed in Thomas County.

The Sheriff's Office said a mobile home at Airline and Centennial roads was destroyed while a man was still inside.

This is believed to be the deadliest storm since the April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak in Ringgold and Cedartown that killed 15 people. It is also the second major storm to rip through South Georgia this month.

Other killer storms in recent years:

  • March 27, 1994: 18 were killed on Palm Sunday in the Floyd County area.
  • March 20, 1998: 14 were killed in Hall and White counties.
  • April 8, 1998: Seven were killed in and around Dunwoody city in DeKalb, and in Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.
  • Feb. 14, 2000: 19 were killed in Southwest Georgia/Mitchell County,Grady County, Colquitt County.
  • March 20, 2003: Six were killed in southwestern Georgia.
  • March 1, 2007: Six were killed in Newton.
  • March 14, 2008: One was killed in Atlanta.
  • April 27, 2011: Ringgold and Cedartown reported 15 deaths.
  • January 2013: One was killed in Adairsville.

Trump calls Georgia Gov. after deadly storms

President Donald Trump on Sunday called Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to offer condolences about the deadly storms that have swept through the state. 

Trump described the tornadoes as vicious and powerful during remarks in the East Room of the White House during his second full day in office, according tot he Associated Press. 

>> Read more trending stories  

CNN reported that Trump said “we’ll be helping out the state of Georgia.”

President Trump: "We'll be helping out the state of Georgia" https://t.co/6OZtrfIwim https://t.co/FpwnJZlGEs— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 22, 2017

Deal chief of staff Chris Riley confirmed the call and said Trump called Deal.

Trump said he was planning to speak with Gov. Rick Scott of Florida later Sunday afternoon. 

Deal on Sunday declared a state of emergency for seven South Georgia counties after this weekend’s deadly storms.

At least 12 people died and 23 were hurt Saturday with more dangerous weather approaching. 

Tornado watch affects millions in Georgia

A tornado watch was issued for the metro Atlanta area to the south until 8 p.m. Sunday, according to The National Weather Service. This means that 10.7 million people are now under a tornado watch.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has issued a high-risk severe weather outlook continuing today for South Georgia, as well as parts of Alabama and Florida. The Center also said supercell thunderstorms could spawn tornadoes.

>> Read more trending stories 

Twelve people died after violent storms moved through Georgia Saturday night. 

Eight people were killed at a mobile home park in Cook County, Coroner Tim Purvis said. 

We have seven confirmed fatalities, and we’re currently conducting search and rescue right now,” Purvis said at about 10 a.m.

Homes at the Sunshine Acres Mobile Home Park on Callie Harris Road were destroyed, and there is extensive damage, Purvis said. The trailer park is located on Callie Harris Road, south of Adel.

Families seeking information about missing individuals are urged to contact the Adel First Assembly of God located at 1601 Massee Post Road at (229) 896-3935 or (229) 561-2875. First Baptist Church of Adel, located at 200 East 5th Street, can be contacted at (229) 561-1201.

Both churches have been designated as shelters.

Two people died in Brooks County, Sheriff Mike Dewey said.

Both were in the same home in Barney that was displaced into Highway 122. Dewey said the storm was still active about 10:30 a.m.

The Berrien County Sheriff's Office also confirmed that at least two people died during the storm.

Berrien County Coroner Robert S. Lovein Jr. said the damage is extensive and “terrible.”

At least three more injuries were confirmed in Thomas County.

The sheriff's office said a mobile home at Airline and Centennial roads was destroyed while a man was still inside.

This is believed to be the deadliest storm since the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak in Ringgold and Cedartown that killed 15 people. It is also the second major storm to rip through South Georgia this month.

 Other killer storms in recent years:

  • March 27, 1994: 18 were killed on Palm Sunday in the Floyd County area.
  • March 20, 1998: 14 were killed in Hall and White counties.
  • April 8, 1998: Seven were killed in and around Dunwoody city in DeKalb, and in Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.
  • Feb. 14, 2000: 19 were killed in Southwest Georgia/Mitchell County,Grady County, Colquitt County.
  • March 20, 2003: Six were killed in southwestern Georgia.
  • March 1, 2007: Six were killed in Newton.
  • March 14, 2008: One was killed in Atlanta.
  • April 27, 2011: Ringgold and Cedartown reported 15 deaths.
  • Jan 2013: One was killed in Adairsvile.

A tornado watch is in effect until 8 PM from metro Atlanta to the south. pic.twitter.com/1KBfAwiaDk— Brad Nitz (@BradNitzWSB) January 22, 2017

Georgia Storms kill 14, injure at least 23 as threat continues

Fourteen people are dead and at least 23 injured after strong storms moved through Georgia Saturday night, into Sunday morning. 

State emergency management officials confirm eight of the deaths are in Cook County.

>> Read more trending stories  

Officials with the Brooks County Sheriff's Office confirmed two deaths to Channel 2 Action News.

Both people were in the same home in Barney that was displaced into Highway 122.

The Berrien County Sheriff's Office also confirmed at least two people died during the storm. Information is limited at this time. 

At least three more injuries were confirmed in Thomas County.

The Sheriff's Office said a mobile home at Airline and Centennial roads was destroyed with a man inside.

Heavy rain began to fall in the southern counties around midnight and continued overnight in metro Atlanta.

Instability is increasing right now across the state as a powerful 3rd and final wave approaches... PLEASE be weather aware today @wsbtv— Brian Monahan, WSB (@BMonahanWSB) January 22, 2017 <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Brian Monahan said it's quiet now across north Georgia, but Round 3 of heavy rain and potentially strong, severe storms is just hours away.

"Expect a line, cluster of storms to be moving into our western counties by early this afternoon, focusing on mid to late afternoon, for the greatest impact most areas," Monahan said.

Heavy rain and winds of 40-60 mph are possible, along with large hail and isolated tornadoes.

A flash flood watch has been issued for all of north Georgia through Sunday night.

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