A tornado can occur at anytime, but Missouri's peak tornado season is from mid-March through late June and being prepared can save residents from injury and even death.
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) advices families to have a plan for all emergencies and to build an emergency kit that will sustain them for at least 72 hours, in addition to their advice for tornado safety.
Residents are advised to know and understand the differences between a tornado warning and a tornado watch. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated on radar, while a watch means that conditions indicate that a tornado is possible.
Ready.gov, FEMA's informational website about disasters, warns that tornados "may strike quickly, with little or no warning" and they can "appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel."
If residents hear tornado sirens or have been placed under a tornado warning, they are advised to seek shelter immediately.
Ready.gov advises, "Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open windows."
If a resident is living in a mobile home, Ready.gov says, "Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes."
Tornado occurrences in Missouri and Pulaski County are high, especially compared with statistics nation-wide.
According to Disaster Center and the National Climatic Data Center, Missouri ranks eighth nation-wide in frequency of tornados, 12 for number of deaths, 15 for injuries, and 9 for property damage. The top seven states, in order, were Texas, Kansas, Florida, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Illinois, and Iowa.
Pulaski County has had 16 tornados since 1950, according to the Tornado History Project, the worst of which were EF-3s. The EF-3 tornado that hit Fort Leonard Wood December 31, 2010 was the strongest causing millions of dollars worth of damage. However, the EF-2 that traveled from the Gasconade Hills area through St. Robert and Fort Leonard Wood October 14, 1966 was the longest and travelled the farthest, causing six injuries.
According to City-Data.com, a privately owned information website that collects data on U.S. cities, counties and states, Pulaski County's tornado average is slightly higher than the rest of the state and is 2.4 times higher than the national average.