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There is no universal protection against tornadoes except caves or underground excavations. When
time permits, go to a tornado cellar, cave, or underground excavation which should have an air outlet

to help equalize the air pressure. It should be kept fit for use, free from water, gas, or debris; and
preferably equipped with pick and shovel.

If you are in open country:

1. Move at right angles to the tornado's path. Tornadoes usually move ahead at about 25 to 40 miles
per hour.

2. If there is no time to escape, lie flat in the nearest depression such as a ditch or ravine.

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1. Seek inside shelter, preferably in a steel reinforced building. STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS!
2. In homes: The southwest corner of the lowest floor or in the basement offers greatest safety.
People living in brick or stone houses should seek other shelter, preferably in a storm cellar or
the basement of a frame house. If time permits, electricity and fuel lines should be shut off.
Windows on the north and east sides of the house may also be opened to help reduce damage to the

3. Standing against the inside walls on the lower floors of an office building offers some protection.

If in schools:

1. In city areas: Especially if school building is of good steel reinforced construction, stay inside,
away from windows, remain near an inside wall on the lower floors when possible. AVOID AUDI-
TORIUMS AND GYMNASIUMS with large, poorly-supported roofs!

2. In rural schools that do not have reinforced construction
ravine or ditch if storm shelter is not available.

remove children and teachers to a

If in factories and industrial plants:

On receiving a tornado warning, a lookout should be posted to keep safety officials advised of the
tornado's approach. Advance preparation should be made for shutting off electrical circuits and fuel
lines if the tornado approaches the plant. Workers should be moved to sections of the plant offering
the greatest protection.

Keep calm! It will not help to get excited. People have been killed by running out into streets and by
turning back into the path of a tornado. Even though a warning is issued, chances of a tornado striking
one's home or location are very slight. Tornadoes cover such a small zone, as a rule, that relatively
only a few places in a warned area are directly affected. You should know about tornadoes though,
"'just in case". See other side for details.

VII Keep tuned to your radio station for latest tornado advisory information. Do not call the Weather

Bureau, except to report a tornado, as your individual request may tie up telephone lines urgently
needed to receive special reports or to relay advisories to radio stations for dissemination to thou-
sands in the critical area.


Weather Bureau


Where tornadoes can occur

Any place in the United States at any time of the year. They happen most frequently in the Midwestern, Southern, and Central States from March through September.

How often do they occur

The records show that the average number of tornadoes varies from 20 per year (Kansas) to 1 in 7 years (Nevada). The national average is 156 tornadoes a year.

How to recognize a tornadoe

Usually observed as a funnel-shaped cloud, spinning rapidly, and extending toward the earth from the base of a thundercloud. When close by, it sounds like the roar of hundreds of airplanes.

Tornado weather

Hot, sticky days with southerly winds and a threatening, ominous sky. However, many such days occur without tornadoes.


Familiar thunderstorm clouds are present. An hour or two before a tornado, topsy-turvy clouds appear sometimes bulging down instead of up. The clouds often have a greenish-black color.


Rain, frequently hail, preceding the torando, with a heavy downpour after it has passed.

Time of day

Mostly between 3 and 7 p. m., but they have occurred at all hours.

Direction of travel

In nearly all cases they move from southwest to northeast.

Length of path

Usually 10 to 40 miles, but they may move forward for 300 miles. Width of path

300 to 400 yards, but they have cut swaths over a mile in width.

Speed of travel

25 to 40 miles per hour average, but they have varied from 5 to 139 miles per hour.

Wind speed

Estimated as high as 500 miles per hour within the tornado.

Causes of destruction

(1) Violent winds which uproot trees, destroy buildings, and which create a serious hazard from objects blown through the air.

(2) Differences in air pressure which can lift automobiles and can cause buildings to collapse.




The Weather Bureau issues forecasts when conditions over a general area are such that a tornado can develop in some part of the area, but it is not yet possible to forecast the exact time and place that a tornado will strike. The forecasts are for the purpose of alerting local warning networks and the public. It is not intended that everyone should immediately run for cover. Instead, people can be prepared to take safety precautions when a tornado is seen, or when a warning is issued that a tornado is approaching. Purpose of a community network

To make it possible for people in a town or county to be warned that a tornado is approaching.

Advantage of a network

Safety measures can be taken to prevent loss of life and to help reduce property damage. See Tornado Safety Rules.

Communities needing networks

A number of communities have warning networks, particularly where Weather Bureau offices are located, and many more are needed. Every locality wanting greater protection and a minimum interruption of routine activities during threatening weather should have a tornado warning network.

How a network operates

(1) In small towns and rural areas-everyone living near the town, or in the county, is asked to quickly report to a warning center, such as the police station or telephone office, any tornado that is seen. Warnings are then issued from this center to everyone in the tornado's path by means of prearranged signals, or by phone calls to farmers.

(2) In cities and densely populated areas-volunteer observers located about 2 to 4 miles apart to the southwest, west and northwest of the area to be protected are requested to furnish prompt reports to a warning center. The center issues warnings through radio and television stations, etc.

How to organize a network

The aid of civic officials, community organizations and other interested citizens should be secured to help plan the network. The more people who become enthusiastic about establishing a warning system, the more successful it will be.

Decide how the network will operate, how large an area it will cover, where the warning center will be located, the type of public warning signal to be used, and similar details. The type of warning signal should be discussed with local police, fire and civil-defense groups to avoid confusion with other public-alarm systems in local use.

Publicity and followup

After details about the reporting and warning system have been completed, the information should be furnished all residents, along with a copy of Tornado Safety Rules. Lots of publicity can provide better public understanding and can avoid possible panic when tornadoes threaten. It is important that all concerned, including the public, be reminded of the network at intervals to prevent interest from lagging. In some communities a civic organization sponsors the publicity and the followup as a public service. Civic and private groups can also provide for reproduction and widespread distribution of the safety rules.

Trial runs

Local officials can arrange for tests to be conducted at intervals to help detect and correct any weaknesses in the system.

Advice to observers

All observers should be alert for tornadoes when the area is included in tornado forecasts issued by the Weather Bureau or when the sky becomes unusually threatening. The inclusion of a community in such a general forecast area is a reminder for the local observers to keep vigilant watch until the threat has ended. In some towns, members of a civic group take turns on hilltops or high buildings at such times and other residents continue normal activities. Factories, schools, and hospitals can also post lookouts if considered desirable.

The importance of promptly reporting any tornado that is seen cannot be overemphasized since delay can result in telephone lines being blown down, making it impossible to notify the warning center.

How to recognize a tornado

A tornado is usually seen as a funnel-shaped cloud, spinning rapidly and extending toward the earth from the base of a thundercloud. When close by, a tornado sounds like the roar of hundreds of airplanes. Even though a cloud may be funnel shaped, as occasionally happens when the sky is threatening, it is not a tornado unless it has the rapidly rotating motion.

The end of a tornado threat

As a rule the danger of tornadoes has ended as soon as the clouds have a clearing tendency, the wind shifts to a little north of west and the air feels cooler and drier. In areas where tornadoes have been forecast, the Weather Bureau issues all-clear broadcasts when the threat has passed.

Protection for other communities

A community network not only helps protect one locality but it can also make it possible for lives to be saved in other areas. After local warnings of an approaching tornado have been issued, the warning center can notify any nearby network centers if the tornado is moving in their direction. The nearest office of the Weather Bureau should also be notified so warnings can be issued to other localities in the path of the storm.

Extract from tornado safety rules

Safety precautions to be taken when a tornado is approaching include:

1. Seek shelter in a storm cellar, cave, or underground excavation.

2. When underground protection is not available, take shelter along the inside walls on the lower floors of a steel reinforced building, or in the southwest corner (basement corner if available) of a wooden house.

3. In open country, move at right angles to the approaching tornado. If there is no time to escape, lie flat in the nearest ditch or depression.


Washington 25, D. C.

No. 163

March 23, 1954

To: State and local civil defense directors. Subject: Identification of Federal employees assigned to essential duties during a civil defense emergency or a natural disaster.


The purpose of this advisory bulletin is to furnish information regarding the uniform system of identification for Federal employees and supporting nonFederal personnel scheduled for essential duties in the event of a civil-defense emergency or a natural disaster. The system is designed to expedite the movement of such personnel, during periods of emergency, to locations where their duties must be performed.


(a) Under emergency conditions, certain Federal employees and nongovernmental personnel who may be required by a Federal agency to assist Federal personnel during a period of emergency must get to their assigned posts of duty to assure the continuity of essential functions of Federal Government agencies and/or the accomplishment of assigned Federal agency civil defense or disaster relief duties.

(b) To expedite the movement of personnel referred to in paragraph a above, FCDA has developed an identification card and vehicle marker that will provide uniformity of identification which can readily be recognized by officials charged with the responsibility for emergency traffic control, thus minimizing, so far as possible, undue delay of these employees in reaching their destinations by the most expeditious means possible.

(c) Each identification card will be numbered and will contain a photograph, a physical description, and the signature of the bearer. Identification cards will carry the official seal of FCDA so that penalties may be invoked if counterfeited, or if used in an unauthorized manner. They will be laminated to avoid alterations and will contain a statement requesting all authorities to render all possible aid in assisting the bearer in reaching his destination. The card is of a size that will fit into the average wallet and is to be carried on the person of the individual to whom it is assigned. The language on the card is considered broad enough to cover any kind of assignment for Federal employees or persons assisting them in performing essential functions in civil defense emergencies or natural disasters, including use of any vehicle which the bearer may operate.

(d) The vehicle marker is issued for the convenience of cardholders and traffic controllers. It is red and white in color and carries the official seal of FCDA. It will bear a number and signature to match the identification card and, while it will expedite travel, it is not required for identification as is the personal card.


(a) Each Federal department and agency has been given the responsibility of designating those employees necessary for the continuity of its essential functions and for civil defense and natural disaster functions, as well as issuing identification cards and vehicle markers to employees so designated.

(b) Included in the personnel to be issued this identification throughout the Nation are:

1. Those Federal employees who are identified and designated as necessary to the continuity of an agency's essential functions, and whose emergency duties may require facility of movement. This includes civilian employees of the Department of Defense.

2. Those Federal employees who have civil-defense assignments to perform within the scope of an agency's responsibility in a civil-defense emergency, except those mentioned in paragraph (c) 2 below.

3. Those Federal employees who will perform essential duties in the event of a natural disaster.

4. Those persons who, although not Federal employees, are designated to perform essential emergency functions in support of Federal personnel having emergency assignments as described in paragraph a above.

(c) This identification system does not cover the following classes of Federal personnel :

1. Military personnel of the Department of Defense carrying out military assignments.

2. Facilities self-protection personnel of Federal agencies. While these people are Federal employees with civil-defense duties, it is more practicable for them to be provided with identification cards or actual passes by local civil-defense authorities in the same manner as such authorities provide identification cards or passes to the protective staffs of local industries, office buildings, etc.

3. Those Federal employees who are not scheduled in advance for the continuity of an agency's essential functions and who have no specific civildefense or natural disaster duties assigned by their employer.


(a) As stated in section I, the uniform identification system is intended to facilitate the movement of designated Federal personnel in times of emergency, and all traffic control authorities are requested to render all possible and reasonable aid in assisting them in reaching their destinations. However, the actual decision to authorize entrance into or through restricted areas, roadblocks, etc., rests with the proper officials and representatives of State and local governments. (b) In order to make this identification system effective under emergency conditions and in natural disaster areas, it is essential that all authorities, public bodies, and personnel charged with the responsibility for controlling emergency traffic be familiar with the system and be able to recognize quickly the identification card and vehicle marker carried, so that the bearer may not encounter undue delays in reaching his destination.

(c) This identification system for Federal employees is not intended to interfere with the operation of any identification or pass system established by State or local authorities. However, its application to Federal personnel is considered essential to the performance of Federal functions during emergency periods. The cooperation of State and local civil defense directors in giving the system wide support and recognition is essential to its effective operation.


(a) An educational program is being undertaken to achieve the proper recognition of this identification system. FCDA regional administrators will receive kits containing information and sample cards and markers which they will use to obtain suitable publicity and understanding.

(b) FCDA regional administrators will assist State and local civil defense directors in the publicity work necessary to make the system effective.

(c) FCDA National Headquarters will seek widespread acceptance and publicity through national police and sheriff organizations.

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