It’s tornado season in Texas. Here’s what you need to know.
Updated: Apr 5, 2020
By Sara Vanden Berge
The Lone Star State is hit with an average of 132 tornadoes each year with about 25 of those happening in North Texas.
In 2019, North Texans experienced an unsettling severe weather pattern when 52 twisters were recorded.
Erath County is no stranger to severe weather either.
An EF1 tornado tore through the area in 2016, leaving behind a large swath of damage but, thankfully, no injuries
As the threat of severe weather looms this season, I sat down with Fire Marshal Gregg Schrumpf with the Stephenville Fire Department to talk about ways residents can stay safe when severe weather strikes.
WHERE TO GO
Schrumpf said the Stephenville Public Library is the city’s primary tornado shelter.
“The library will open first,” Schrumpf said. “Everyone will go into the basement.”
Other shelters include Henderson Junior High and Gilbert Intermediate.
“Anything after that will be coordinated with Tarleton State University,” Schrumpf said.
Stephenville High School can also serve as a designated safe place, but because of ongoing construction and current parking limitations, Schrumpf said the public will be directed to other locations first.
HOW TO SHELTER AT HOME
If seeking shelter away from your home or work is not an option, residents should follow these tips.
“Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls,” Schrumpf said. “Try taking cover in a bathroom or inside room without windows.”
He also said covering yourself with a mattress while lying in a bathtub will protect you from falling debris.
Residents should also sign up to receive Nixle alerts on their phones by going to the city’s website at stephenvilletx.gov or texting 76401 to 888777.
“If Stephenville is under the threat of any kind of severe weather, Nixle will issue an alert,” Schrumpf said.
The city’s storm sirens will also alert people who are outdoors when the threat of severe weather strikes.
“The sirens are not made to be heard when people are inside their homes watching TV. They will not hear it,” Schrumpf said. “That’s why it’s so important to sign up for those alerts.”
OTHER SEASONAL FACTS
• Tornadoes in Texas happen most between 4-8 p.m.
• Texas tornadoes occur most frequently in the Red River Valley from April through August, according to the Texas Almanac.
• Last year’s tornado outbreak in Texas was the costliest in the state’s history, according to the Insurance Council of Texas. Damages totaled more than $2 billion.
• The highest number of recorded tornadoes happens in May.
• One of deadliest tornadoes in Texas occurred in 1953 in Waco with 114 fatalities and 597 injuries.