There’s been a lot of talk about tornadoes here in the great state of Maine recently, and the rumor is that either it’s a new phenomenon, or they’re on the rise because of the bogus global warming fairy tale. Neither one is true, of course, we’ve always had them. I’ve seen one or two myself back in the day. But the recent news does go along with my own personal mantra that anything can happen, anytime, anyplace. And that usually gets us hurt because we fail to prepare for it.

Here are a few tips from the Maine Emergency Management Agency;

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 areas at the earliest warning with flashlights and a radio and to remain there until 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.

  • Stay away from windows.
  • Get out of automobiles. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; instead, leave it immediately.
  • If caught outside or in a vehicle, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression.

We average 2 tornadoes a year up here in the great state of Maine, but they’re usually over uninhabited territory and so go unreported for the most part. However, as the population grows and expands into these areas more people naturally see them and so it may seem as though they are increasing. I remember one statistic from doing some research a good many years ago that stated there were something like ten or so reported in one year, but I can’t remember where I read it. It wasn’t directly related to what I was doing so didn’t save the story. And yes, this was from before the days of laptops and home computers and the ability to keep the contents of the New York library in your pocket.

But recent articles do suggest that this year may well be a record breaking year for them, at least for the southern section of the state, so it would be wise to look at the weather with a heightened sense of involvement this time of the year. Usually we pass over a lot of information as it is summer, what could happen beyond a thunderstorm? Don’t fall prey to the illusion that all is calm. It isn’t, and this past few days shows that there can indeed be some cyclone action where one would least expect it.

Just yesterday there were reports that a funnel cloud touched down near the Brighton Hill road area of Minot. Friday a tornado ripped through the Paris area of Oxford county, according to WMTW: The storm cut a path 16 miles long and as wide as 700 yards through the towns of Norway, Paris, Buckfield, Sumner and Hartford. With winds between 100 and 110 miles per hour, it rates an EF-1 on the enhanced fugita scale. A great slide show can be found here of the damage. A few days ago we had reports of a funnel cloud or clouds touching down up in the area of Shin Pond in Penobscot county. Supposedly we have at least 6 confirmed reports thus far in 2010.

I’d suggest we all pay closer attention to what is happening around us, and keep an eye to the sky as we prepare and plan for tomorrow. But today, it looks like more of the same type of storms coming that make for ideal tornado conditions are on the way.

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