Friday, July 20th, 2012
Category: Industrial Skills
Florida is the lightning capital of the United States (and for a time, of the whole planet), a dubious distinction that has made Florida homeowners a persnickety lot when it comes to home wiring—and has made contractors with a Florida professional engineer license or a Florida electrician training a much-sought-after breed.
Although lightning may be the primary cause of weather-related deaths in Florida (10 fatalities plus 40 injuries on average annually), other severe-weather phenomena threaten the Sunshine State every year. The weather condition that precipitates lightning often also spawns another killer from the blue in Florida—tornadoes.
A tornado is a furiously rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground with speeds ranging from 65 mph to 200 mph, but sometimes exceeding 250 mph. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that tornadoes across the country, including Florida, cause some 80 deaths and over 1,500 injuries each year.
Although most tornadoes in Florida form over water (called waterspouts), they can migrate to land and wreak considerable damage.
Following are some terms to know that can help you prepare for a tornado:
- Severe thunderstorm. A thunderstorm that is likely to produce a tornado under the right conditions; it has winds of at least 58 mph, just below the wind-speed threshold of a tornado.
- Severe thunderstorm watch. As its name suggests, tells you when and where a severe thunderstorm is expected to appear.
- Severe thunderstorm warning. Severe thunderstorm weather has been spotted by radar—imminent danger for those in the path of the storm.
- Tornado watch. Tornadoes might occur in your area.
- Tornado warning. A tornado has been visually sighted or spotted by radar.