Tornadoes PDF Print E-mail


Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms. They can appear suddenly without warning and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears. Planning and practicing specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter of survival. Be prepared to act quickly. Keep in mind that while tornadoes are more common in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest, they can occur in any state and at any time of the year, making advance preparation vitally important.

For information on Tornado Preparedness in American Sign Language, please click here.

Step 1: Get a Kit

  • Get an Emergency Supply Kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries.
  • Store it in your shelter location


Step 2: Make a Plan

Prepare Your Family

  • Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
  • It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
  • You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.
  • Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning:
    • Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
    • If underground shelter is not available, go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris.
    • A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection. Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible.
    • If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
    • Plan to stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.
  • Take a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class from the Lee County Emergency Management Agency.  Keep your training current.

Step 3: Be Informed

Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio! Outdoor Warning Sirens are only designed to notify those outdoors in severe weather. Weather Radios with charged batteries are the most dependable form of notification for your family and business, and can be purchased at most local electronics stores. 

Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a tornado hazard.

  • A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes in your area. 
  • A tornado warning means that a tornado has either been spotted on radar by national weather service personnel or in the field by trained weather spotters.  

Remember, Lee County sounds it's sirens based on storm-specific warnings, but don't rely on this notification system alone...they're outdoor warning sirens!  It's difficult at best to hear them when you're inside, the wind is blowing and the rain is pounding on your roof.  Get a NOAA weather radio for your house, and if you have a smart phone, there are many great apps out there to download so you can get your warnings all the time, even if the power goes out.

Additionally, you may sign up for emergency text messages through Alabama SAF-T-Net via  If that's not enough for you, the Lee County EMA encourages you to go to the National Weather Service's Birmingham website to learn about and sign up for their services like the Wireless Emergency Alerts, Facebook and Twitter.  The Lee County EMA also has a Facebook and Twitter account for you to sign up for information.


Listen to Local Officials:

Learn about the governmental emergency plans that have been established in your area:

Lee County

City of Opelika

City of Auburn

Auburn University

In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.


For further information on how to plan and prepare for tornadoes:

Tornadoes: A Guide by the National Weather Service

American Red Cross

All-Hazards Awareness Booklet: National Weather Service


A special thanks goes out to Mrs. Cole's 9th grade science class for their hard work on identifying more resources for our citizens to look at to better prepare themselves and their families in the event a tornado impacts our community.  Keep up the great work!


"Protect Your Home: Tornado Preparedness"




Another class found our page useful, and asked us to add more information for everyone on their behalf.  Thank you to Maura Stephenson and her Science Students for a job well done on staying prepared and learning how to protect yourselves and your loved ones in the event a tornado or other disaster strikes.


"Home Security: Tornado Safety"