Tornadoes: how to react in the event of an alert?


“It was the apocalypse.” These are the words used by the inhabitants of the small village of Bihucourt in the Pas-de-Calais with, to describe the disaster which had affected the region. “A washing machine for a few minutes, a corridor of wind about twenty meters wide, moving from north to south”, described in parallel the captain of the company of gendarmerie brigades of Pont-Audemer.

On Sunday October 23, 2022, part of Hauts-de-France was affected by a violent stormy episode, accompanied by strong gusts of wind. In the town of Bihucourt, a tornado appeared, devastating everything in its path.

While in some parts of the world these phenomena are quite common, they are much rarer in France. Questioned by our colleagues, Jean-Marc Pietrzak, North interregional director at Météo France, estimates that between 40 and 50 tornadoes affect the territory each year, most of them being of very low intensity.

The northwest quarter of France is particularly exposed compared to the rest of the territory. But all regions remain potentially affected by a phenomenon of this magnitude. However, few people know the protocol and the precautionary measures to follow when a tornado hits them.

However, it is not easy to know how to react when such a violent event occurs. Here are the rules to follow to protect yourself and your family during a tornado.

To protect yourself from a tornado, it is above all essential to be informed on the subject. Thus, it is necessary to regularly follow the weather alerts to be aware if its region is threatened by the phenomenon.

In the event of a tornado alert, you must first remember to close all your shutters and windows. Then, it is important to find a suitable place to hide while the phenomenon passes. A cellar, a basement or even under a table, several places can do the trick. The important thing is to stay away from windows and doors.

When you are outside during the appearance of a tornado, you have to lie down in a ditch or a place not to protect yourself. Be careful, staying hidden in a car is not a good idea because they are often damaged during such events.

But how do you know when you can come out of hiding?

While hiding from the tornado, keep in touch with the outdoors by listening to the radio or following the news on your phone, to know the evolution of the situation and know when it is possible to go out without risk.

When leaving, it is finally possible to check if his family and neighbors are in good health. However, here too, it is advisable to know the safety gestures so as not to take any risks. It is thus necessary to avoid all the buildings too damaged as well as the electric lines which could be on the ground.