Michael Faulkner, Director
499 NW 5th Ave.  Okeechobee, FL  34972
Phone: (863) 763-3212     Fax: (863) 763-1569
Please call for e-mail contact information.


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Tornado Tips


The wind speeds in most tornadoes are at or below design speeds in typical Okeechobee building codes. In other words, a house built to code will stand up to the majority of Okeechobee tornadoes.  Nevertheless, tornadoes are unpredictable and some of them can be quite dangerous. A person in the vicinity of a tornado should seek shelter immediately.


Most tornadoes seem to begin when warm, humid air along the ground is pushed up rapidly by cooler air and develops into a spinning vortex or funnel. Tornadoes happen year round. In Okeechobee they are most frequent in April, May, and June. Florida is number three in the United States for number of tornadoes, fortunately, these tornadoes tend to be less severe than those in the Midwest. Current data indicate that around 85 percent of all reported tornadoes have wind speeds of 112 mph or less.


If you live in a tornado-prone area or a mobile home find out in advance where you can take shelter. The shelter may be a local community building, or your own underground storm cellar or in-residence shelter. Because of the lack of sufficient notice and the brief live of a tornado in Okeechobee, County Emergency Management Shelters are not opened, unless, a tornado has touched down and caused damage that requires citizens to seek shelter in the aftermath. Tornadoes can form and move quickly, so if you do not have time to get to a community shelter and do not have your own, keep in mind that:

Cars are vulnerable, A strong tornado can pick up a car, and trying to outrun the storm is not a gamble worth taking. Stay out or get out of your vehicle.

Mobile homes are vulnerable, including those with tie-downs. Mobile homes have a large surface area relative to their weight, making them good candidates for overturning. They tend to have light frames and thin skins that are vulnerable to wind pressures and wind-blown projectiles. Don't try to ride out a tornado in a mobile home

In open countryside, take shelter in a ditch or canal or lie flat on the ground upwind of your parked car or mobile home, with your hands covering the back of your head and neck. If an overpass or concrete viaduct is available, take shelter behind the concrete pilings.
In office or apartment buildings and shopping centers, go to the lowest floor. Roofs are more likely to sustain damage. Take shelter in small interior rooms, such as rest rooms, closets and utility rooms, or in interior corridors. Stay away from windows.
In schools, move into interior hallways or small interior rooms on the lowest level. Avoid auditoriums, gymnasiums and other large rooms with long freespan roofs, as well as corridors with exposed entrances. Avoid glass display cases, glassed-in stairwells and doorways.


Listen for National Weather Service alerts. A tornado or severe thunderstorm watch means that conditions are favorable for one or the other. A tornado or sever thunderstorm warning means that one or the other is imminent or has already been spotted by sight or radar in the vicinity. Tornadoes occasionally develop in areas where a severe thunderstorm watch or warning is in effect.

Have a NOAA Weather Radio, with tone alert.



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