Weather Center

Are You in Texas’ Tornado Alley?

By Casey Kelly-Barton 7.1.18

For years, meteorologists have called the region from South Dakota down through North and Central Texas Tornado Alley because of the disproportionate number of tornadoes that touch down there. Even in this zone, Texas stands out. Of the thousand or so tornadoes that form in the U.S. every year, an average of 132 touch Texas soil — the most in any state, according to the Texas Almanac.

Late spring and early summer are our peak tornado seasons, although storms tend to come back in the fall, with most twisters striking in late afternoon and early evening. Here’s how you can get ready.

Know the risks where you live.

North Texas sees the most tornadoes: The Fort Worth tornado of 2000 heavily damaged much of downtown and killed two people. Last year’s outbreak of seven tornadoes included a huge EF4 tornado in Canton and claimed four lives. But other parts of the state see twisters, too. On May 27, 1997, multiple tornadoes hit the greater Austin area, including Jarrell, a lethal tornado with wind speeds of up to 261 miles per hour. It was called “one of the most powerful tornadoes on record.” Some forecasters think last year’s La Niña weather pattern will lead to more twisters than usual in Tornado Alley this year

Keep an eye on the weather.

Tornado forecasting has become more accurate over the last few years, giving communities more time to take shelter. You can use a weather radio, smartphone alerts, Twitter, and radio and TV news to keep up with the latest watches, warnings, and storm paths. Download these weather apps for up-to-the-minute info.

Know where to seek shelter.

Make sure everyone in your family knows where to take cover. Good places include:

  • Storm shelter or basement.
  • Interior room, ideally without windows, on the lowest level.
  • Halls and closets under stairs.
  • Bathtubs — some twister survivors credit their tubs with saving their lives. 

If the building you are in has been damaged, any chemical or gas fumes are present, or any electrical sparks are visible, carefully leave the building as soon as possible – an explosion or major fire may be imminent. Whenever possible, open a window to ventilate gas leakages, and turn off electricity at the circuit breaker if sparks or damaged wires are visible.

Stay out of your vehicle.

Roads may be hazardous or unusable; take note of radio announcements regarding downed power lines and closed roads in your area. The Texas Department of Public Safety warns against trying to outrun a twister in your vehicle. Instead, get out and lie facedown in a ditch or low spot, away from your car and trees if possible. 

Weather in Texas’ Tornado Alley may seem unpredictable, but by planning for these storms and monitoring the weather, you can help your family stay safe.

Are you fully protected against storm damage? Schedule a 360 Review with your local Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent to find out.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2018 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance