What should you do if you find yourself in a tornado?

We’re finally into the middle of May and severe weather season is in full swing.  

Tuesday night’s tornadoes near La Grange in Fayette County – including the wedge tornado that passed near Swiss Alp – are stark reminders that these storms mean business. There are still several more weeks of severe weather season to go it’s important to know your severe weather plan if severe weather comes your way.  

There are three important parts to any severe weather plan: Shelter, notification, and a plan of action.  

The first one is frequently the easiest. Find your severe weather-safe space. A severe weather-safe space in your house is a room or closest that is as far away from the exterior walls of your house or apartment. The safe space will be on the lowest level of your home or apartment building.  

Most commonly these are closets, bathrooms, or under-stair storage spaces.    

Mobile homes, travel trailers, and non-foundational prefabricated homes and buildings are not safe shelters in a severe thunderstorm. If you are in one of these buildings part of your severe weather plan should include seeking more sturdy shelter.  

A nearby business, foundational house, or community building will be enough.    


Second, notification, is also relatively simple. Make sure you have a way to receive weather alerts. Smartphones will ring with EMS alerts such as tornados, flash floods, and severe thunderstorm warnings. Weather apps, such as the FOX 7 WAPP will alert you to severe weather in your area as well. 

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma and the National Weather Service in Austin/San Antonio recommends at least two ways to get your alerts. One can be your phone, the other, they recommend, an NWS weather radio for night-time alerts.  

Once you receive the notification it is important to reach your safe space first, then check FOX 7 to see where the severe weather threat is and where it is headed. Streaming videos on your phone can help you keep tabs on the latest severe weather information.  

Third a plan of action. When a weather emergency strikes you and your family should know exactly where to go so there is no wasted time. A National Weather Service study found that the average time from when a tornado warning is issued to when the tornado hits is about 13 minutes. 

Time is very short, and any time wasted can have potentially devastating consequences.  

It is important to note that, though the traditional ‘storm cellar’ seen in movies or in Oklahoma are the best bet to stay completely safe, though they’re not 100% required. Many tornado survivors, including during the infamous EF-5 Moore, OK Tornado of 2013, have survived direct hits without tornado or storm cellars by taking these safe-space precautions.    

If all of these steps are taken and your severe weather plan is followed, severe weather should – at worst – only damage property. 


Track your local forecast for the Austin area quickly with the free FOX 7 WAPP. The design gives you radar, hourly, and 7-day weather information just by scrolling. Our weather alerts will warn you early and help you stay safe during storms.