2019's Seasonal Tornado Strike Zone May Include The San Antonio Region | KERA News

2019's Seasonal Tornado Strike Zone May Include The San Antonio Region

Originally published on March 4, 2019 5:32 pm

Accuweather predicted there will be 1,075 tornadoes across the U.S. this year, slightly up from the 987 forecast last year, and San Antonio may be one of the cities at risk.

The weather forecasters said despite the increase from year-to-year, their estimate was still below the annual average of more than 1,100 twisters.

Accuweather long-range meteorologist Paul Pastelok said the Mississippi Valley and Gulf states saw more activity in recent years than traditional so-called Tornado Alley states, like Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.

But he warned Tornado Alley should see plenty of activity in 2019.

And, he added, San Antonio is outside of Tornado Alley to the south but it may also be at risk.

"There is a concern with an El Nino in place this spring that the track could be a little father south and that could place you guys in an area vulnerable during the course of the season," he said. "We will not know that until we get into probably April to get a better feeling to El Nino because it came on so late this year."

May is the peak month for tornado formation in Texas.

Jonathan Porter is vice president and general manager of Accuweather Enterprise Solutions, which looks out for business and property owners. He said now was the time to prepare for the violent thunderstorms, flooding and hail that come with tornadic systems.

"So were are urging folks in these communities to make sure they have a plan for dealing with tornadoes and other types of severe weather," he said, "and be ready to activate that plan as needed and be able to take action."

The Texas Department of Public Safety recommends people ride out tornadoes by sheltering in interior rooms, like a bathroom, away from windows, if possible, and in the lowest floor of their building or home. Workers in taller office buildings should shelter in stairwells, but stay off elevators in case the power goes out.

If possible, they should cover themselves with a mattress or pillow to cushion their bodies from flying debris.

Never try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle, the guidelines advised, and if someone is caught out in the open, they should lay down in a low spot away from trees.

Other tips include preparing a three-day supply of non-perishable foods and water in case electricity is lost. A battery-powered radio, flashlight, and a first-aid kit will come in handy too, according to the DPS. Garbage bags, moistened towelettes and twisty-ties can used as part of a toilet system.

A tornado struck north central San Antonio on Feb. 21, 2017, and one person was injured. No deaths were reported.

According to the National Weather Service, the last tornado death in San Antonio was in September 1988 when a twister killed a woman when it destroyed her mobile home. The tornado grew out of the remnants of Hurricane Gilbert.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.

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