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Tropical storms, tornadoes and severe wind can be destructive and extremely dangerous weather emergencies. Tropical storms bring high winds and sometimes severe flooding. Tornadoes, nature's most violent storms, can appear suddenly and without warning — even remaining invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears. 

To prepare yourself and your family for the threats posed by tropical storms, tornadoes and thunderstorms it's important that you remember to:

Below you will find detailed information on how to prepare for each of these weather emergencies.


Tropical storms have sustained winds of up to 73 miles per hour and can bring intense rain that causes severe flooding. The following are steps you can take to prepare for tropical storms:

  • Get an emergency supply kit that includes enough provisions for you and your family to live on for a minimum of three days.

  • Make an emergency plan for you and your family.

  • Know the difference between a tropical storm watch and a tropical storm warning:

Tropical Watch Warning Explanation 
  • Bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.

  • Keep all trees and shrubs well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.

  • Secure your home by closing shutters, and securing outdoor objects or bringing them inside.

  • Turn off utilities as instructed. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.

  • Cover all of your home's windows with pre-cut ply wood or hurricane shutters to protect your windows from high winds.

  • Turn off propane tanks.

  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.


Even though tornadoes are more common in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest, they can occur in any state and at any time of the year. In Pennsylvania, there have been 170 tornadoes recorded in just the last 10 years (source: National Climactic Data Center). With tornadoes, planning and practicing specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter of survival.

  • Determine a place where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning. Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.

  • If underground shelter is not available, go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.

  • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris.

  • A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection. Trailer parks should have a community storm shelter and a warden to monitor broadcasts throughout the severe storm emergency. Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible.

  • If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

  • Schools should have a designated shelter area (usually an interior hallway on the lowest floor). Stay out of auditoriums, gymnasiums and other structures with wide, free span roofs.

Know the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning:

Tornado Watch Warning Explanation