Severe Weather Preparedness: Science behind tornado development and safety

Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 5:01 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 8, 2023 at 11:24 AM CST
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QUAD CITIES, Iowa/Ill. (KWQC) - It is Severe Weather Preparedness week in the state of Illinois.

Tornadoes can happen any time of the day, any day of the year in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. Both states have experienced at least one tornado during each month.

A tornado typically forms in a supercell thunderstorm here in the Midwest, which is a thunderstorm with a constant, rotating updraft.

Moisture, lift, instability and more importantly, shear, must be present for a tornado to form.

A Tornado Watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form, and are generally issued for a four to eight hour period of time.

A Tornado Warning means a tornado has been spotted by a trained storm spotter, or rotation has been indicated on Doppler Radar.

Tornado Emergencies are issued with large, violent tornadoes threaten life and property in highly populated areas.

No place outside is safe during a tornado. If you are outside when a Tornado Warning is issued, find the nearest indoor shelter.

If you do not have a basement, an interior room with no windows, away from outdoor walls, is the safest place to be.