Skip to Main Content

Severe Storm Threats

Tennessee is located where the jet stream typically brings all kinds of aberrant weather. Due to the variations of the jet stream and where it may be at any particular time, it is difficult to forecast Tennessee weather with consistent accuracy. The weather in Tennessee is changeable, in fact, it has long been said that, "if you don't like the weather in Tennessee, just wait ... it will change!"

Thunderstorms are prevalent in Tennessee year-round. Although they are more frequent in the spring and the fall, they may happen in any month. High straight-line winds are often as much a threat to the public as tornadoes. Straight-line winds of up to 60 mph are not unusual and typically precede a front which dramatically changes the current temperature.

If you anticipate the arrival of a front, expect straight-line winds 10-20 miles ahead of the front. Stay calm, but seek shelter immediately. Avoid rooms with windows and if there is an option, select a room in the center of the house with good structural support, usually the smaller the better. Keep a TV or radio handy and a flashlight in your shelter. Wear shoes to protect your feet from broken glass and other debris left by the storm. Protect your head and chest; crouch, face to floor, hands behind your head. Cover yourself with blankets, pillows or coats. Hide under sturdy furniture. You should take shelter within the bathtub if there are no glass tub enclosures or large mirrors nearby. Avoid candles, gas lanterns and oil lamps.

In schools and offices: seek a designated shelter in interior rooms or hallways on the ground floor or the lowest floor possible. A basement area is the best protection if it will stay dry. Avoid auditoriums and gymnasiums. In shopping malls, seek the smaller interior shops on the ground floor. In shopping centers, avoid the large open rooms as well as the walls from the direction which the storm is approaching.

Evacuate mobile homes and vehicles! These are never safe. Seek shelter in more substantial structures, or as a last resort immediately before arrival in a ditch or culvert. Find another place to be as quickly as possible after the front has moved through since rain will bring fast-rising water to your ditch.