Tornado Safety

Tornadoes are one of nature’s most violent storms. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be more than one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard. Some tornadoes are visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. Tornadoes in South Dakota are not common, but they are also not rare...they can and do occur in our area.


Whenever a tornado warning has been issued and/or the public warning sirens sound, seek shelter immediately and turn your radio or TV on to a local station for information.

In Homes: Seek shelter in the basement for the greatest protection. Get under a stairwell, or heavy furniture, if possible. In homes without basements, seek shelter in the central part of the house, in a small room on the lowest floor, like a bathroom, closet, or hallway. Protect yourself from flying debris with pillows or blankets. Stay away from windows and exterior walls. Do NOT open windows. Strong winds and flying debris may injure you.

In Shopping Centers: Go to a designated shelter area, not to your vehicle.

In Schools: Follow advance plans and go to the designated shelter area. Stay out of auditoriums, gyms, and other structures with open roof areas.

In Office Buildings/Hotels/Motels: Go to an interior hallway on the lowest floor or a designated shelter. Avoid windows, skylights, and other areas containing glass structures. Use the stairs, not the elevator. Leave large rooms with high open ceilings, large windows, and skylights, such as gymnasiums, church sanctuaries, or industrial buildings.

In Vehicles: Do not try to drive away from a tornado or take cover under a highway overpass. If there are no buildings nearby, leave your vehicle and find a low area away from it that is clear of potential debris, such as trees and power lines. Lie flat and cover your head.

In Open Country: Go to a nearby ditch, ravine, or gully, lie flat and over your head. Watch for rising water from the heavy rains that often accompany a tornado.

In Mobile Homes/Trailers

Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable to tornadic winds and should be evacuated. Mobile home parks should have a pre-designated storm shelter. Mobile home residents should plan to take shelter in a permanent structure or with friends, neighbors or family. DO NOT wait until the last minute to evacuate...allow sufficient time to leave your mobile home and arrive at your shelter area. If you don’t have time, lie flat in a ditch or ravine away from the mobile home and protect yourself with pillows and/or blankets.


  • There Is No Guaranteed Safe Place During A Tornado!
  • Do Not Watch The Tornado!
  • When The Sirens Sound, Do Not Run Outside To See What Is Happening.
  • Seek Shelter Immediately!