Preparing for Tornadoes

Why Prepare?

The potential for tornado damage in the U.S. remains strong.

Just three years ago, the country was overcome by a series of

particularly destructive storms, including a tornado outbreak

in late April 2011 that killed more than 300 people across seven

states, and one in May that devastated Joplin, Missouri. That

year was one of just three since 1950 with more than $25 billion in

damage, and the 560 deaths in 2011 were the most fatalities since

1925, when 794 people died. The average annual U.S. property

losses caused by tornadoes, from 1950 to 2013, is $5.9 billion in

today’s dollars.

What is a Tornado?

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that makes

contact with the ground. If it does not make ground contact, it is

called a funnel cloud. If it makes contact with water, it is called a

waterspout. Funnel cloud and waterspout tornadoes may last only

a few seconds, or they may continue for over an hour.


Tornadoes cause an average of 70

fatalities and 1,500 injuries in the

U.S. each year.

Technical Information Paper Series

So which state has the most tornado damage?

In total damage suffered since 1950, Texas has

the melancholy distinction of leading the way,

followed by Indiana, Missouri and Oklahoma. If

we look at damage per square mile, the leaders

are Connecticut, Massachusetts and Indiana, and

Texas drops to 29th. There are fewer tornadoes

in New England, but high populations and

development mean a risk of more damage. The

only state with no tornado losses during this

period is Alaska.

While tornadoes occur throughout the year, their

destructiveness is most intense in April, May and

June, with 66% of total damage and 55% of total

tornadoes in those three months. Only 20% of

annual damage occurs after July 1.

How Do Tornadoes Form?

Most tornadoes are associated with thunderstorms

and develop in the right rear quadrant of

the storm. They are believed to be created when

warm, moist air is rapidly lifted upward by a cold

front, or from hot air rising from daytime heating.

Tornadoes can also occur during hurricanes.

The average tornado produces winds in the range

of 150 mph; it typically cuts a path 200 yards wide

and travels about nine miles. However, some

tornadoes have produced winds with speeds of

up to 500 mph. The very strongest tornadoes may

cut paths up to several hundred yards wide and

may travel for up to 30 miles.

What Warnings Might Be Given?

Know tornado terminology:

A tornado watch means that weather conditions

are right to produce a tornado in the area.

A tornado warning means that a tornado has

been sighted and may be heading toward your

area. Go to safety immediately. When the tornado

warning is issued, all employees should move to

the designated secure area.

Business Continuity Management:

Before a Tornado

It is not economically feasible to design a

structure to withstand the forces of a severe

tornado, but certain measures can be taken to

prevent some damage and injuries.

• Establish a Business Continuity Management

(BCM) Plan that takes prevention, crisis

management and business recovery into

consideration. If a BCM plan is already in

place, review and update it as needed for

tornado readiness.

• Designate a BCM coordinator and a BCM team.

Assign responsibility to specific employees for

advance arrangements to initiate the plan.

• Develop a contingency plan to allow for

continued business operations.

• Practice periodic tornado drills so everyone

knows how to respond if a tornado is


• Find an interior area in the building that

is secure.

• Stay tuned to a local weather station for

updated storm information.

• Use spotters with two-way communication

to provide a tornado watch and premise


• Secure large exterior appendages that could

cause major damage if torn free.

• Tie down items that could be blown over in

high winds.

• Inside buildings, move objects that could

become airborne by winds that come inside.

• Close and secure all doors and windows.




The information provided in these materials is intended to be general and advisory in nature. It shall not be considered legal

advice. The Hartford does not warrant that the implementation of any view or recommendation contained herein will: (i) result

in the elimination of any unsafe conditions at your business locations or with respect to your business operations; or (ii) will be

an appropriate legal or business practice. The Hartford assumes no responsibility for the control or correction of hazards or legal

compliance with respect to your business practices, and the views and recommendations contained herein shall not constitute

our undertaking, on your behalf or for the benefit of others, to determine or warrant that your business premises, locations or

operations are safe or healthful, or are in compliance with any law, rule or regulation. Readers seeking to resolve specific safety,

legal or business issues or concerns related to the information provided in these materials should consult their safety consultant,

attorney or business advisors. All information and representations contained herein are as of May 2014.

14-0532 © May 2014 The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

For more information, contact your local Hartford agent or visit

Business Continuity Management:

During a Tornado

• If inside, stay in a safe place until the storm

has passed.

• If outside, get to a basement, a sturdy building,

or lie in a ditch or low-lying area.

• If in a vehicle or mobile trailer, get out and go

to safety.

• Listen to the weather station to obtain

updated information.

Business Continuity Management:

After a Tornado

• Conduct a roll call.

• Check all damaged areas for injured people.

• Assess the damage.

• Take steps to mitigate further damage.

• Make emergency repairs.

• Document all damage with photographs

and descriptions.

• Initiate salvage operations.

To learn more

Visit these websites:

American Red Cross Tornado Safety Tornadoes

Share Button