A “tornado” is described as a violently whirling column of air extending downward and seen as a rapidly rotating, slender, funnel shaped cloud that has a wind velocity of up to 300 miles per hour. At such intense wind speeds, a tornado can destroy everything along its narrow ground path.

Tornadoes and Maine:

The tornadoes experienced in recent history in Maine have been generated by severe summer storms. The southwestern and central sections of the State have been most often affected. Because of Maine's sparse population, there have not been significant amounts of property damage or personal injury. Mobile homes are most vulnerable to substantial damage.

Maine averages one to two tornadoes per year, typically touching down in uninhabited wooded areas. A tornado touched down in Phippsburg on Thanksgiving Day 2005, causing damage to trees and coastal homes and camps. In 2009 and 2010, tornadoes were verified in Aroostook and in Oxford County, Maine.

What to Look For… Environmental Clues:

Tornadoes often occur with very little advance warning. The best way to be prepared is to stay tuned to television and radio for emergency messages from the National Weather Service. NWS messages may give as little as 5-10 minutes warning before a tornado forms. Be alert for:

  • Dark, often greenish sky
  • Wall cloud
  • Large hail
  • Loud roar, similar to a freight train

Some tornadoes appear as a visible funnel extending only partially to the ground. Some are clearly visible while other are obscured by rain or nearby low-hanging clouds

Tornado Safety:

At the earliest warning, go into a below ground area with flashlights and a radio. Remain there until you are informed that tornado danger has passed. Manufactured (mobile) homes are especially vulnerable and mobile home residents are urged to evacuate to the nearest frame home with a basement.

If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture. Here are some tornado facts and safety tips.

  • Flying debris causes most deaths and injuries in tornadoes
  • The safest place in your home during a tornado is your basement.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Get out of vehicles or mobile homes, they offer little protection. Seek shelter in a substantial building.
  • Do NOT seek shelter under a bridge overpass. Bridge overpasses offer little, if any, protection from wind- driven debris.

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