Camping is always a great activity when the weather is beautiful, but sometimes the weather does not cooperate. Rainy days can be a bummer, but severe weather poses many risks and can escalate quickly. Lightning, downpours, and flash floods are serious threats, but perhaps the most dangerous of all are tornadoes. What are the worst tornado months and states to avoid while camping?
There are approximately 1,200 tornadoes per year in the United States, resulting in over an average of 80 deaths. They can develop quickly, sometimes will little warning, and some areas are more susceptible than others at different times of the year. Here are a few things to consider when planning your camping trips with regards to tornado seasons.
States And Seasons
Generally speaking, there is no set tornado season. Tornadoes can form at any time of day, at any location, during any season. These severe weather phenomenons have been recorded during every month of the year in the U.S throughout the years, but during certain times of the year some areas are more prone to tornado activity than others.
Typically, the biggest times to watch out for tornadoes in any region would be anywhere from early spring to early summer. Temperature changes and fluctuation that come with seasonal changes create the perfect conditions for the formation of tornadoes. Northern states usually have the most frequent tornado occurrences in late spring through early summer, while southern states similarly have the most concern March through May, and areas east of the Rocky Mountains generally through spring and summer. Tornadoes do not tend to develop on the west coast very often, but that does not mean that it can’t happen!
Most commonly known as Tornado Alley, named for the high frequency of tornadoes that occur each year in this area, stretches from Texas, and spans the plains states and can reach as far north as Illinois. This region has warm air from the Gulf of Mexico that meets with cold, dry polar air, which, in addition to endless spans of flat land, is the perfect recipe for tornadoes. The seasons that come with the highest cause for alarm in this area are the spring and summer, but they occur during every season! States in this area would be the ones to avoid most when planning a camping trip!
Precautions To Take
Since tornado weather can be unpredictable, it is always a good rule of thumb to always be prepared when embarking on your camping trip! Always be sure to make a plan in case severe weather strikes, so make sure to consider your surroundings! Here are some things to keep in mind if you are staying at a campground:
-Be sure to scout out safe buildings that provide maximum shelter, those with an underground shelter are best
-Check to see if your campground has a designated tornado shelter
-If it does not, a windowless building, such the bathroom or showers, is ideal
-DO NOT stay in your RV during a tornado or extreme weather!
-If severe weather starts to develop, secure any loose items so they don’t become a hazard in strong winds
-If a tornado watch is issued, be safe and find shelter
-If a warning is issues, DO NOT wait, get to a safe spot immediately!
-Keep an emergency kit with food, water, medical supplies, flashlights, etc.
If you are camping on your own, boondocking, or staying in a place far from sheltering buildings:
-Again, DO NOT stay in your RV
-Get as low to the ground as you possibly can to avoid getting swept away
-When you’re scoping out your campsite, look for ditches and low points where you can lay in case of a tornado
-Caves, jutting rock edges, etc. can provide adequate shelter, just make sure that there is a low risk of debris that could fall on you
-Do not waste time gathering and securing belongings. At the first sings of inclement weather, secure any loose or heavy items. Do not wait until the last second to save items. If a storm develops quickly, worry about you, not your belongings.
The best way to keep on the lookout for possible tornado signs is to keep tuned into the area’s local news, that way you have an of idea what kind of weather to expect and if it has the possibility of turning severe. If you have a smartphone or device with internet capabilities, most weather apps or websites have the options for mobile and text alerts, although these only work if you have the signal strength to receive them. The best choice would be to purchase a battery-operated weather radio to keep in tune with the current weather status.
Tornado Warning Signs
It is a great idea to know the warning signs a tornado, in case you do not have access to any warning systems and are outside the reach of signals. The warning signs of tornadoes are:
-An eerie calm with nearly windless atmosphere
-Loud, roaring sound, like a freight train
-Visibly rotating clouds
-A cloud extending toward the ground, or swirling debris rising to meet an extending cloud
Use Your Common Sense
In conclusion, being prepared and thinking logically about tornadoes could save your life when camping! Being in an RV, or especially a tent, makes you more vulnerable in extreme weather situations, so taking the appropriate measures and staying in tune with local weather forecasts can help greatly! If you follow these tips, especially in the worst tornado states, and avoid the worst months, you’ll be more prepared and less likely to experience a tornado while camping! Always stay alert!