We’re living through that brief moment when hurricane season and tornado season overlap, which means that residents in the midwestern and southeastern areas of the U.S. need to be especially cautious.

When a tornado comes, there is often little time to lose. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that the average tornado warning airs just 13 minutes in advance. Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes are much more sporadic and unpredictable.

Emerging from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can come and go in seconds, leaving serious devastation behind them. While it’s common to think that tornadoes only happen in Tornado Alley, every state is potentially at risk of tornadoes.

One of the keys to being prepared for a tornado is knowing what the warning signs are. Here are the warning signs you should watch out for this tornado season:

  1. A strong, ongoing rotation of the cloud base.
  2. Whirling dust or debris on the ground. Contrary to popular belief, not all tornadoes are funnel-shaped, and they are not as easy to spot.
  3. Uncommonly still air or a very intense shift in wind direction
  4. Large, heavy hail during a thunderstorm instead of rain
  5. Loud, roaring thunderstorm that doesn’t fade like thunder usually does
  6. A dark greenish, ominous-looking sky (you’ll know it when you see it)
  7. An approaching wall of clouds or debris
  8. At night: Small, bright flashes at ground level during a thunderstorm. These could mean that power lines are being snapped by high winds.

If you notice a combination of these warning signs, or hear a warning on your television or radio, you need to find shelter quickly.

While many recommend taking shelter in the basement of your home or even a bathtub, with such high, damaging winds and the possibility of flooding, taking refuge in an underground shelter could put you and your family at much higher risks.

Aboveground tornado shelters are the most effective forms of tornado safe rooms. While tornadoes are capable of ripping up floorboards, exposing your basement’s foundation, an aboveground tornado shelter from Valley Storm Shelters is heavily weighed down and able to withstand the strongest winds.

In the case of debris that may otherwise trap your family in a belowground shelter, our storm shelters are customizable and offer multiple doors, so you can choose the safest mode of entry or exit.