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how to reduce your risks in the event of a tornado


  • although tornadoes are relatively common in Australia, they rarely cause substantial damage or injury, usually because most hit rural areas or are at sea as water spouts, and unlike in the US, those in southern parts of Australia are short-lived, fast ones, usually in May-Sept, which travel at 50-80kph and last only 10-30 minutes.
  • tornadoes extend from severe thunderstorms and usually develop from the trailing end of a storm
  • it is not uncommon for the sun to be visible or skies to clear partially during a tornado

in high risk areas, plan ahead

  • preferably build your house with tornado protection measures including a basement
  • choose a safe room in which you will shelter
  • have emergency food and water supplies on hand
  • have a full tank of fuel in your car
  • prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees
  • move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile

be aware of the signs of an impending tornado

  • strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base
  • whirling debris on the ground under a cloud base - tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
  • many tornadoes are hidden by heavy rain - beware heavy hail or rain followed by either dead calm or an intense wind shift
  • loud freight train roar or rumble that doesn't fade within seconds like thunder
  • small blue or green flashes at ground level which suggest power lines are being affected by a tornado
  • persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning
  • listen to local radio news

safety in tornado

  • if you are inside a tornado, safety cannot be guaranteed but there are possible steps to reduce risks
  • flying debris is the greatest danger in tornadoes
    • avoid windows
    • basements are generally good shelters but rarely available in Australia
    • go to an interior hall or room without windows in the lowest floor possible, lie flat, protect head with arms and cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag
    • the more concrete walls or plumbing around you, the better - this reduces the risk of your home caving in on you and better protects you from flying debris
    • do not use elevators as risk of power failure
    • avoid high risk structures such as mobile homes
    • if outdoors in the open:
      • lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms
      • get as far away from trees and cars as you can as these may get blown onto you
  • vehicles are extremely risky in a tornado
    • there is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car, just slightly less-dangerous ones
    • consider driving out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado if the tornado is at a distance
    • seek shelter in a sturdy building, or underground if possible
    • if there is a deep ditch beside the road which is not flooded, consider getting out of the car and moving there well away from cars or trees, and lie flat, etc
    • avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris
    • if caught by extreme winds or flying debris:
      • park the car as quickly and safely as possible well off the road out of the traffic lanes
      • stay in the car with the seat belt on
      • put your head down below the windows
      • cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushion if possible

after the tornado

  • stay away from power lines and puddles with wires in them
  • do not use candles, matches or lighters, in case of leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby
  • if you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out of the building quickly and call the gas company or fire department
  • stay out of any heavily damaged houses or buildings as they could collapse at any time
  • assist the injured and stay together
  • clean up spilled medications, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids that could become a fire hazard

recorded tornadoes in Victoria

  • Tatura/Shepparton 23rd Dec 2022
  • Horsham 4 Oct 2021
  • 9 June 2021: not a tornado but massive wind storm causes flooding, major damage and kills 2 with winds to 120kph, 300mm rain over 24hrs, mainly in Gippsland
  • Horsham Dec 2020 F1
  • 27 Aug 2020: not a tornado but massive wind storm causes major damage and kills 3 in eastern suburbs Melbourne / Dandenongs (winds to 95kph in Melbourne but were up to 158kph at Wilsons Prom)
  • Woodend 14th Aug 2020
  • Waurn Ponds, Grovedale, Mount Duneed and Armstrong Creek May 2020 F1
  • Peechelba nth of Wangaratta Sept 2019
  • Axe Creek near Bendigo June 2019
  • Bentleigh East, Melbourne 19 Feb 2017
  • northern suburbs of Tullamarine, Craigieburn, Campbellfield 5 Nov 2015 F0 1)
  • NE Vic - Nathalia, Strathmerton, Torrumburry, and Cobram. 1 Nov 2015 F2
  • Echuca Oct 2015 F0
  • Lake Hume July 2015 F0
  • Strathmerton north of Shepparton May 2015 2)
  • Eganstown to Daylesford 28 Feb 2015 F1
  • Shepparton 23 Feb 2015 F0
  • Creswick 13 Feb 2015 F0
  • Yelta near Mildura Nov 2014 F1
  • Pakenham June 2014 F0
  • Ararat Oct 2013 F1
  • NE Victoria 7 tornadoes: Mar 2013
    • one struck Koonoomoo, Cobram, Barooga, Mulwala, Yarrawonga, and Bundalong and is thought to be the most powerful one to ever be recorded to hit Victoria with rating F4
    • another hit Rutherglen
    • another hit Tamleugh, Euroa and Swanpool
    • further tornadoes touched down near Kerang, Benalla, and two near Mansfield.
  • Ballarat Jan 2013 F1
  • Black Range near Stawell May 2012
  • Keilor Downs, Melbourne, Fiskville and Melton Dec 25th 2011
  • Bellbridge near Wodonga Nov 2011
  • Magpie Valley near Ballarat Apr 2011
  • Trawalla west of Ballarat July 2010
  • north of Ballarat Dec 2007
  • You Yangs May 2007
  • Noble Park and Mulgrave Melbourne June 2004
  • Grampians Jan 2004
  • Bendigo May 2003
  • Sandon (Nth of Daylesford) Nov 1976 2 died when their car was thrown
  • Korong Vale NW Victoria Feb 1948
  • Lismore to Geelong July 1926 1 death
  • Portalington and St Leonards Jan 1921
  • Brighton Feb 1918 at least 2 deaths F3
  • Marong and Lockwood Sept 1911 1 death F3
  • Ballarat Aug 1909 1 death
  • Nhill 250km trail virtually destroyed Nhill township and extensive damage to Donald where 1 died, 2 others died in Maryborough Nov 1897
  • Beechworth Oct 1865 1 death
  • Maryborough to Creswick Feb 1864 2 deaths
  • Hamilton Oct 1861
  • Chetwynd on the Glenelg July 1861 1 death
  • Devil's River, near Eildon 1848
  • Port Phillip Heads to Mt Macedon 1837
australia/tornado_safety.txt · Last modified: 2023/04/12 23:04 by gary1

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