Henry County Web

storm clouds Henry County Web

Weather Emergency Information

storm clouds Henry County Web


Of the surrounding counties Shelby and Henry Counties have the most confirmed tornadoes from 1950-1997, with 13 and 10 respectively.


A tornado is a rapidly spinning column of air. They occur most often in the spring when warm and cold air fronts collide, peak season is March through May, but tornadoes can occur at anytime of year. The most likely time for a tornado to occur is the warmest part of the day, usually between 3:00 and 9:00 pm

Floods and flash floods take lives, and destroy property also. A "flood" is slow rising water from a river, stream, etc. They occur at any time of year, but are more common in spring. Run-off from heavy rains, melting snow, or drainage blocked by ice or snow are contributing factors. A "flash flood" can occur in minutes or hours after extreme rainfall. They come with fast, strong currents and are especially dangerous because people underestimate the force or moving water. More deaths are attributed to flooding than any other weather related phenomena.


A WATCH means that conditions are favorable for a thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood. Tornadoes form quickly and often without warning. The winds or a tornado are faster than even the winds of a hurricane, reaching speeds of nearly 320 mph.

Tell-tale signs that circumstances are right for a tornado include very dark or greenish skies, large hail and a load roar, likened to the sound of a train. You might also witness things flying in the air; commonly black objects that are easily mistaken for birds are debris trapped in the funnel. The debris is often shingles ripped from roofs, but can be much much bigger and dangerous, including trees, bricks, cars and trucks!

You should be making plans when a "watch" is issued.

A WARNING means a weather event is actually occurring. In the case of a tornado it means that a funnel has been sighted, detected by radar or touched down on the ground.

A flash flood warning means that a flood is occurring in your area at the moment or will happen soon. Currents are strong and deceptive, water may be deep and moving faster than you think or observe. Don't underestimate the power of rushing water that might also be carrying large debris from upstream.

It's time to take action when a "warning" is declared.



If you are INDOORS: Stay indoors. Go to an interior hallway or the basements. If you have no basement go to the center of the house on the ground floor in a small room such as a closet or bathroom, or under sturdy furniture. Keep clear of windows, doors and exterior walls. If you are in a mobile home, leave and take cover in the nearest ditch or ravine and shield your head. (If available, mobile home residents should get to a community shelter or a neighbor's conventional home.) Make sure the ditch you choose is NOT beneath power lines or close to trees; power lines can break and fall, trees can uproot and fall or attract lightening.

If you are IN YOUR CAR: Tornado movement is too fast and erratic, don't try to outrun the tornado. If possible leave your car and seek shelter indoors. If you are in open country, you can try driving away from a tornado at right angles, but if there is no time to maneuver out of the path of destruction, leave the car and lay as flat as possible in the nearest ditch or ravine. Make sure the ditch you choose is NOT beneath power lines or close to trees; power lines can break and fall, trees can uproot and fall or attract lightening.

If you are OUTDOORS: Lie as flat as possible in the nearest ditch or ravine. Make sure the ditch you choose is NOT beneath power lines or close to trees; power lines can break and fall, trees can uproot and fall or attract lightening.

FLASH FLOODS: You should move to higher ground, but do not cross water.

Being PREPARED for TORNADOES and other disasters:

Things to have on hand:

  • Flashlight(s) with fresh batteries
  • A battery powered radio or television
  • Candles or oil (kerosene) lamps
  • Hand Crank Multiband Radio that can use Solar or Battery as well as hand crank. USB adapter to charge a cell phone is beneficial!
  • A UPS Surge protector is useful to safely power down equipment and then use to recharge cell phones, batteries or operate LED lights.
  • (Use caution with open flame illumination! Keep out of reach of children and pets that may knock them over or otherwise cause disastrous results.)
  • A game, a deck of cards, a book, or another amusement
    (To entertain children while waiting for an "all clear" can save your sanity.)

Preparedness for medium to long term disasters:

If you have a shelter or other safe place to store the following items you might be glad you did:

  • First Aid Kit
    (Every home should have one. If you can manage it, have a second kit reserved for your emergency shelter.)
  • Special items needed by infants, elderly and disabled persons.
  • 2 or more gallons of bottled water (per person)
    (sometimes water service is disrupted and serious flooding can contaminate the water supply)
  • blankets/sleeping bags
    (In cooler seasons there may be no source of heat. Remember, is a power failure occurs not only those with electric heating systems will be effected. Gas and oil furnaces rely on electric fans or pumps to circulated heated air or water. In cases where injury is involved you may need to wrap someone to treat for shock or substitute a dry warm blanket for wet clothes while waiting for rescue.)
  • kerosene heater or firewood
    (Same reason as above. Use caution with these devices; there is danger of fire and burns.)
  • food (and can opener)
  • (Canned products that don't need heat are always handy, also, there are now self-contained/self heating meals that will keep on the shelf for long periods of time. Without electric there will be no cold storage and in many cases no method to heat foods. If your family is involved in camping recreation you might think about storing your camp stove in your shelter where it will be handy in time of need. DO NOT USE barbecue grills/brickettes in confined areas/without ventilation! They give off toxic gases and need to be used only in an open space.)
  • cell phone
    (If you have one, take it with you into the shelter. You may need it. Reserve usage only for emergency situations and preserve the battery.)

Finally, a word about Lightening

Lightening often accompanies rainstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and even snowstorms. Globally, every second there is lightening striking the earth (as much as 100x per second!) Chances are high that you know someone that has had a "close encounter" of some degree, with lightening. More people die from lightening strikes than tornadoes and hurricanes combined.

(Farmers know the losses to live stock from lightening storms.)

Because thunder/lightening is so common we tend to be overconfident and underestimate the risk from lightening. When thunderstorms are in the area get inside. Avoid using electrical equipment--even telephones! (A cordless phone is less dangerous that a phone connected directly to a wall jack, but it is still an "attracter" and lightening can jump gaps.) Don't wash dishes, or take baths or showers during a lighting storm. Outdoors, do not take shelter under trees or other tall objects. Get to a low area (but out of danger from flashfloods) and get close to the ground. (Recent recommendations are to not lay flat on the ground, but rather, crouch -- so that only the soles of your feet are in contact with the ground.)


Some useful hyperlinks:

Nat'l Weather Service

Tornado F.A.Q. & Preparing for Tornados

Save Your Family Treasures

Winter Storm Disasters

Storm Prediction Center

FEMA-Help After a Disaster

Recovering From A Disaster


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Copyright 1997-2024 Joyce K. Meyer. All Rights Reserved
This site was created by Joyce K. Meyer, on October 26, 1997.
Last revised on 03/02/24.