A tornado is the world’s most violent storm and can devastate a community in seconds. Tornadoes are rapidly rotating columns of air that drops from a thunderstorm to the ground with winds up to 300 miles per hour. If you see a cloud of flying debris, there might be a tornado even if a funnel isn’t visible. When there's a tornado risk, the National Weather Service issues alerts. Sign up to receive emergency alerts.
While uncommon in Southern California, strong storms can sometimes produce weak tornadoes. Even weak tornadoes can cause damage and injuries.
Tornado Watch: severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are possible
Tornado Warning: a tornado is happening or about to happen. Seek shelter immediately
During a tornado
Seek shelter immediately!
- If you’re in a building, go to an interior room on the lowest level, like a closet or bathroom.
- Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.
If outside, protect yourself
- Try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
- Take cover in a parked car.
- Lie in an area lower than the level of the roadway.
Cover your head
- Cover your head with your arms. Most injuries come from flying debris.
After a tornado
- Check in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
- If you’re trapped, don’t move. Make noise so that rescuers can find you.
- Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
- Stay out of damaged buildings and homes until local authorities say it’s safe.
- Photograph damage to your property for insurance purposes.
- Do what you can to prevent more damage. For example, cover your damaged roof with a tarp.