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A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornadoes are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. Tornadoes can occur at any time of day or night and at any time of the year. Although tornadoes are most common in the Central Plains and southeastern United States, they have been reported in all 50 states.

Severe Thunderstorms

A thunderstorm is considered severe if it produces hail at least 1 inch in diameter or has wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people some years than tornadoes or hurricanes. Heavy rain from thunderstorms can cause flash flooding. High winds can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles, causing widespread power outages. Every year people are killed or seriously injured because they didn't hear or ignored severe thunderstorms warnings. Information combined with timely watches and warnings about severe weather, could save your life.

  • Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. If thunder roars, go indoors! Don't wait for rain. Lightning can strike out of a clear blue sky. Learn more about lightning safety.
  • Avoid electrical equipment and corded telephones. Cordless phones, cell phones and other wireless handheld devices are safe to use.
  • Keep away from windows.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends.
  • If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.

Lightning and Flood Threats

While much of the focus during severe weather is on tornadoes, wind and hail, there are actually more deaths caused each year by flooding and lightning, which are also commonly associated with severe weather. If you hear thunder or see lightning, head inside immediately! When Thunder Roars Go Indoors! Heavy rainfall from thunderstorms can quickly cause rivers and streams to overrun their banks and cause street flooding in cities. Remember, if you encounter a flooded roadway, do NOT drive or walk into it. Turn Around!

Don't Drown!




Winter Weather Preparedness Week 2016

November 13-19, 2016 is Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Indiana.

The National Weather Service (NWS) will conduct a winter weather preparedness campaign during the month of November. The purpose of the campaign is to remind Indiana citizens of winter’s hazards, how to stay safe, and to educate everyone about preparedness.

Please read our preparedness newsletter (3.0MB pdf) for timely information, including a winter outlook, safety tips, and more!

NWS Indianapolis will issue daily Public Information Statements on various winter preparedness topics.  Click on a day for the text of that day's statement.

  • Sunday - Overview
  • Monday - Emergency Kits for Preparedness
  • Tuesday - Winter Weather Travel Safety
  • Wednesday - Safety Considerations for Schools
  • Thursday - Winter Outlook and Exposure to Cold/Wind Chill
  • Friday - Outdoor Safety during Winter
  • Saturday - Summary

Beyond the NWS, several state government partners, as well as the American Red Cross, are involved in communicating a message of preparedness and safety, no matter the location or circumstance._

American Red Cross has information on their website about disaster preparedness kits

and other tips to help you stay safe during dangerous winter weather and other emergencies.

The Indiana Department of Transportation reminds everyone to drive carefully during winter weather, and to provide snow plows with a safe amount of distance on the highway. Road and traffic information can be found at the INDOT website.  Click here for winter road safety information.

The Indiana Department of Education would like to remind parents to ensure that their children are dressed appropriately and warmly for cold and snowy conditions while waiting at the bus stop or traveling to and from school.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security asks you to remember that, while the National Weather Service, local media, and public officials are here to help you prepare and to keep you informed, ultimately, you are responsible for your safety and that of your loved ones.  Take time to prepare BEFORE hazardous winter weather strikes.  Do not wait until it is too late.  Learn how to prepare for weather and other everyday hazards at the IDHS Get Prepared site.

     spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Take shelter in a substantial building. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds. Warnings are issued by your local forecast office. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or county) that may be impacted by an on-going severe weather.