National Weather Service: July, 1976 TornadoAs hurricane season gets officially underway, tornadoes are stealing the spotlight. As reported by Leslita, yesterday a tornado touched down in northern New York and another one was reported in New Jersey, though may not have actually touched down. Still, it's only June and it seems like we've been getting our fair share of severe weather and wonderfully entertaining thunderstorms.

Tornadoes occur all over the world, but are most frequent in the U.S. accounting for an average of 70 fatalities and 1,500 injuries nationwide each year. Severe thunderstorms are usually the catalyst for the spinnies but hurricane can also spawn them. Don't think NYC is immune to them either. According to the NYC Office of Emergency Management, four tornadoes have been confirmed in New York City since 1960 with the last one being an F1 hitting Staten Island in 1995. Given the surge in severe weather, we aren't breathing easy this summer. The OEM has a very informative tornado page on their website and NOAA has a tornado FAQ available.

The month of May reportedly saw 527 tornadoes. That is only second to last year when there were a record monthly total of 543 (final numbers for this year have not been confirmed yet). This seems to indicate a significant surge in tornadic activity over the last 2 years. The previous record was 399 tornadoes in 1992. While statistically May is the most active of the tornadic months, June can also prove to be a dangerous time as well for tornadoes. Gothamist has only experienced one tornado when they were very young but remembers it scared the crap out of him.

What to do in a tornado:

  • Go to your basement or the lowest point of your residence. If an underground shelter is not available, move to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Get out of automobiles.
  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; leave it immediately for safe shelter.
  • If you cannot find shelter, take cover in a ditch or other recessed area and cover your head with your hands. Do NOT take cover under an overpass or bridge.
  • Be aware of flying debris.
  • Mobile homes offer little protection from tornadoes. Leave a mobile home and go to the lowest floor of a nearby building or storm shelter.
  • Avoid places with wide-span roofs, such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways or shopping malls.