Last month, Tallahassee was hit by a tornado in a severe thunderstorm; Leon County was actually struck by two EF-1 tornadoes. The second twister swung around TCC and FAMU before tearing up the Tallahassee International Airport. Florida State University sends out automated text messages telling students near and far to "seek shelter immediately." This can be a stressful situation, especially if you moved here from a place that never sees tornadoes. If you're in an apartment near FSU and are told to seek shelter, you have to make some quick decisions. Let me give you a hand.
Watch The Windows
What you should generally do during any severe weather event, but especially during a tornado warning, is avoid any room with glass objects. Yes, even glass cups should be, ideally, in a different room than you. In the event that a twister tears through FSU apartments, cabinet doors can easily be ripped off, exposing the glass cups and plates inside to winds ranging anywhere from 65 to 355+ miles per hour!
The Enhanced Fujita Scale (simply called the Fujita Scale until 2007) rates the intensity of tornadoes on a scale of zero to five. They base their ratings on the highest recorded winds and aftermath intensity. Even at 65mph, any glass near your person can go from window to weapon. If your apartment is anything like mine, your only escape is either the bathroom or a closet. As unattractive as they seem, rooms like these, that are completely free of glass, can save your life.
Stop, Drop, and Cover Your Top
If you encounter a tornado outside, walking through your apartment's pool deck or on your way back from the gym for instance, you have two options; you could find a nearby storage closet or lockable room, or lay flat and cover your head in the closest ditch or otherwise lower ground. If, for some reason, neither of these options are immediately available, dart towards the sturdiest building nearby. Even if there is glass inside, do your absolute best to avoid it. While it is extremely unlikely that you will ever be in the above situation in Tallahassee, or Florida in general, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
What A Story You'll Have
If your time is limited, you live above the first floor, and your front door is inside, you should have a seat in the hallway until the storm passes. The hallway is a great choice in a pinch, but ideally, you should try to get as low to the ground (and lower) as much as possible. Typically, Florida tornadoes are far less severe than many seen elsewhere in the nation; however, we have the most tornadoes per square mile in the nation. Tornadoes commonly spawn from hurricanes and tropical storms but can form on their own just as easily. Most of Florida's tornadoes take place in the Spring and Summer months, but the tornadoes that struck in January are a reminder that they can come at any time!
Still, the odds of a tornado visiting your FSU apartment are very slim. The school will send out multiple text alerts when danger is near, but you have to know where to go to seek shelter to ensure your safety. If you take anything from this article, remember, when in doubt, get as low to the ground and away from glass as possible.