You're Not in Kansas Anymore
For those who have come to live in Palm Coast, you'll note that nature doesn't act quite the same way in Florida as 'up north'. Powerful storms and wildfires have unique characteristics in Florida, and understanding what to expect will give you more knowledge and a better understanding of how to react.
When a Tornado Warning is issued, you have little time to make decisions. Advance planning and quick response is a key to survival.
When the jet stream digs south into Florida and is accompanied by a strong cold front and strong squall line of thunderstorms, the jet stream's high level winds often strengthen a thunderstorm into what meteorologists call a supercell or mesocyclone. These powerful storms can move at speeds of 30-50 mph, produce dangerous downburst winds, large hail and most deadly tornadoes. Damage from a tornado is a result of the high wind velocity and windblown debris. Over 80% of all tornadoes strike between noon and midnight.
Frequently Asked Tornado Questions
When is Florida's tornado season?
- In Florida the Tornado Season is year round. The strongest tornadoes have been recorded in the winter months from February to May (February 1998 outbreak is one example), however, strong tornadoes have also been recorded in landfalling tropical cyclones such as tropical storms and hurricanes.
What actions can I take to be prepared?
- Build or identify a safe room in your home, preferably a place without a window.
- Purchase an NOAA Weather Radio with a tone alert feature. This will allow you To receive warnings issued by a local National Weather Service office (weather radios with SAME capability can be programmed for just Flagler County).
- Conduct drills during tornado seasons. Discuss and practice plans with all family members.
- Develop an emergency communication plan. In case family members are Separated from one another during a tornado (at work or school), have a plan for getting back together. Ask an out-of-state relative to serve as a family contact. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address and phone number of the contact person.
What should I do if a tornado threatens or actually hits?
TORNADO WATCH – Means Tornados are possible
TORNADO WARNING – Means a tornado is likely or has been spotted.
If a Tornado Watch is issued:
- Stay informed of weather conditions and advisories
- Consider altering travel or special event plans
- Heed all warnings
IN YOUR HOME:
- Seek shelter in a small interior room. A walk in closet or bathroom would be a good shelter.
- Bring in a blanket or pillows, any kind of protection you can use to cover yourself.
- Crouch down, protect your head and body as much as possible.
- Have a pet? Put them in a pet carrier and take them with you into your safe room.
- Abandon your vehicle and find suitable shelter in a sturdy building.
- If a building is not available, leave your car, seek shelter in a ditch or depression.
- DO NOT STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE, most fatalities happen in vehicles and mobile homes.
- DO NOT PARK UNDER AN OVERPASS! It is one of the worst places to be.
- Best advice, if a Tornado Warning is issued or if bad weather appears to be coming, do not travel at all. Seek shelter and wait for the storms to pass.
- Abandon the mobile home for a better shelter
- Seek shelter in a ditch or more substantial building
- Most tornado fatalities occur in mobile homes. Find better shelter.
What disasters supplies do I need?
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Emergency food and water
- Non-electric can opener
- Esssential medicines
- Cash and credit cards
- Sturdy shoes
- Sign up to receive warnings and alerts regarding disasters and severe weather through CodeRED and its Weather Warnings notification system. This is a service provided to you at no charge. Sign up at www.palmcoastgov.com/emergency or www.FlaglerEmergency.com or by calling Customer Service at (386) 986-2360.
- What important telephone numbers do I need?
- Florida is the 3rd state for tornado occurrence in the United States.
- Many Florida tornados are rain-wrapped and cannot be easily seen.
- Florida's tornado season is all year long.
- The strongest tornados are more likely to occur in the winter or early spring months and many times at night.
- Florida Tornadoes can be exceptionally fast some moving at speeds of 70 mph. Act when warnings are issued. You may not see or hear it coming.
- Though most Florida tornadoes are weaker, they can be strong at times. Especially during the winter and early spring months.
- The average lead time from warning to when the storm strikes is about 12 minutes. It could be more...or less. Act immediately on warnings.
- Flagler County has had 24 confirmed tornadoes since 1970 when records began to be kept. There may have and likely has been more due to under-reporting.
- Sometimes a tornado will strike without a warning. Even with storm spotters and Doppler radar, sometimes tornadoes will form suddenly. If threatening weather approaches seek shelter quickly.
- Opening Windows to equal pressure. This actually can CAUSE more damage and also delay one from seeking shelter
- Parking under an overpass. This is a very dangerous place to be as the winds are intensified through the passage under the overpass.
- The sky turns green means a tornado is coming. Not always...the "green sky" is more associated with hail. Many tornados are rain wrapped and hard to see.
In December 2013, a strong EF-1 tornado crossed the City of Palm Coast, hitting three large neighborhoods on both sides on Interstate 95. Thankfully, no one was injured. But 241 homes were damaged or destroyed, causing an estimated $7.27 million. See the video below for a report on what happened and how the City and greater community responded.The Starlight Tornado "After the Storm" - Palm Coast, December 2013