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Tornadoes are the world's most violent atmospheric storms. They are narrow, violently rotating columns of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground, and they are sometimes hard or impossible to see.

Read more below about tornadoes to help you make a plan and build a kit.

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Outdoor Warning Sirens

OKC's outdoor warning sirens sound in and near areas where the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning. If you hear a siren, immediately take shelter and get more information about the storm.

There is no all-clear signal.

OKC tests its sirens at noon on Saturdays unless there's a threat of inclement weather.

Use OKC's Accessible Hazard Alert System to receive alerts in American Sign Language and English voice and text.

Sirens should be only one of at least three ways you have to get information about the weather, including an NOAA weather radio, AM-FM radio, television, online news source or smartphone app. 

Never rely only on sirens or any other single source of information as your only cue for deciding to take shelter.

Tornado Watches and Warnings

The National Weather Service (NWS) monitors thunderstorms for tornadoes. The NWS issues a tornado watch when weather conditions are favorable for tornadoes, and you should pay close attention to the weather. The NWS issues a tornado warning for confirmed or radar-indicated tornadoes. Immediately take shelter and seek more information.

Stay aware of the weather, including for NWS tornado watches and warnings, by paying attention to weather sources like local television stations, radio, online news sources and smartphone apps. You should always have a battery-powered or hand-cranked NOAA Weather radio in your disaster kit as a backup, and don't forget extra batteries.

Use OKC's Accessible Hazard Alert System to receive alerts in American Sign Language and English voice and text.

Tornado Safety

Get inside a well-constructed building and seek shelter if a tornado is nearby. Flying debris is the greatest danger.

The safest place to be is a storm shelter built to FEMA or ICC 500 standards, or a basement.

If there's no storm shelter, get to the inner-most room, hallway or closet on the lowest level of the building. Put as many walls between you and the outside as possible, and stay away from windows and doors. Most houses provide life-saving protection from 98 percent of tornadoes in Oklahoma. 

Wear a helmet and/or use pillows, cushions and thick blankets for additional protection. Wear sturdy shoes that will protect your feet if you have to walk through debris.

Vehicles are unsafe in tornadoes. Many deaths are attributable to being inside a vehicle when a tornado strikes. If you're driving when a tornado threat is nearby, get to the closest well-constructed building to take shelter. Never attempt to outrun a tornado by driving.

Mobile homes are unsafe in tornadoes. Have a plan to get to the nearest well-constructed building to take shelter.

Oklahoma City doesn't have public tornado shelters. Read more about why.

If you have a storm shelter at your home, register it with the City of OKC so emergency crews know where to find you in a disaster.