Tornado season and how to prepare

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Zachary Chapman
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

Tornadoes are a serious concern in Texas. As such, you should understand the dangers they pose and the actions that can be taken to help stay safe.

The terms watch and warning are used when describing severe weather. If there is a tornado watch, it means the conditions are favorable for a tornado. On the other hand, if there is a tornado warning, this means a tornado has been seen or picked up on radar.

The Goodfellow AFB Command Post is manned 24 hours a day and can warn the base population within seconds of a severe weather warning. The CP uses the AtHoc messaging system to send alerts to computers and phones using pop-ups, email, verbal and text messaging. For the AtHoc system to be effective, it is important for all base members to register in the AtHoc system. The CP also recommends that family members and contractors register in the system. The CP also uses the “Giant Voice” system to provide warnings to those outdoors. The Giant Voice system consists of loud speakers strategically placed throughout the base and housing areas to provide notification to those outdoors. Once a weather notification has been sent out, units should follow their internal shelter plans to protect occupants of the facility.

If you are under a tornado warning, find shelter right away
  • If you can safely get to a sturdy building, do so immediately.
  • Go to a safe room such as a basement or storm cellar.
  • If you are in a building with no basement, get to a small interior room on the lowest level.
  • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safe in low, flat locations.
  • Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death.
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
How to stay safe during the stages of a tornado


  • Gather necessities such as; first-aid kit and essential medications, canned food and can opener, at least three gallons of water per person, protective clothing, bedding or sleeping bags, battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries, and special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
  • Bring written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so. Remember, you'll need a professional to turn natural gas service back on.
  • Know the sign of a tornado, including a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud; an approaching cloud of debris; or a loud roar, similar to a freight train.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.


  • Immediately go to a safe location that you identified.
  • Take additional cover by shielding yourself with materials such as furniture and blankets around you.
  • Listen to the Emergency Alert System (EAS). You can also listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions.


  • Keep listening to the EAS, NOAA Weather Radio and local authorities for updated information.
  • If you are trapped, cover your mouth with a cloth or mask to avoid breathing in dust. Try to send a text, bang on a pipe or wall, or use a whistle instead of shouting.
  • Stay clear of fallen power lines or broken utility lines.
  • Do not enter damaged building until you are told they are safe.
  • Save your phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messaging or social media to communicate with family and friends.
  • Be careful during clean-up. Wear thick soled shoes, long pants and work gloves.
Myths and Facts

MYTH: Areas near rivers, lakes and mountains are safe from tornadoes.

FACT: No place is safe from tornadoes. In the late 1980's, a tornado swept through Yellowstone National Park leaving a path of destruction up and down a 10,000-ft. mountain.

MYTH: The low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to "explode" as the tornado passes overhead.

FACT: Violent winds and debris slamming into buildings cause most structural damage.

MYTH: Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.

FACT: Opening windows allows damaging wind to enter the structure. Leave the windows alone; instead, immediately go to a safe place.