Homes damaged by the Groundhog Day tornadoes,
February 5, 2007, in the Villages.Groundhog Day Tornado
As Sumter County residents discovered in 2007, no community is immune to these storms. The outbreak was a trio of storms which snaked their way across Central Florida, from The Villages to New Smyrna Beach.
The outbreak, which damaged 1,145 homes and destroyed 200 others in Sumter County alone, was the second-deadliest on record for Florida, and caused a total of $218 million in damage, overall.
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air, in contact with the ground. They are considered nature’s most violent storms, mostly spawned from powerful thunderstorms. An average of 1,200 tornadoes each year, in the U.S., cause an average of 60-65 fatalities and 1,500 injuries, and can devastate a neighborhood in seconds.
A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud with wind that can reach 300 miles per hour, with a damage path that may be in excess of 1 mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard. They can occur at any time of day, any day of the year. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.
Belief: Opening a window before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
Fact: Virtually all buildings leak air. Leave windows closed. Take shelter in a windowless interior room or hallway.
Often, scud clouds, which are low, detached, irregular clouds, are mistaken for a newly formed tornado. The easiest way to differentiate is to look for a circular motion with clouds moving 1 way on 1 side and the opposite direction on the other side. It is possible for a scud cloud to form part of a tornado’s rotation, however, they are generally not attached to a large-scale storm rotation and more often than not, they are harmless.
Tornado Terms You Need to Know
- Tornado Watch - A tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions which may produce tornadoes or severe thunderstorms are developing. Continue normal activities, but have a safety plan in mind, and be ready to implement it if a warning is issued.
- Tornado Warning - A tornado warning is issued when a tornado or severe thunderstorm has been detected or sighted. The warning will tell you the location and movement of the severe weather. If you are in or near the path of the storm implement your safety plan immediately.