Tornadoes form when cool, dry air sits on top of warm, moist air. In the plains areas of Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma, this often happens in the spring and early summer when cool, dry mountain air rolls east over the plains, over-running warm moist air traveling north from the Gulf of Mexico. Most tornadoes move from southwest to northeast, but direction of travel may be erratic and suddenly change.

The greatest numbers of tornadoes in Colorado occur between May and July.

Tornado Watch:

  • Conditions are present for a tornado.
  • Keep a radio/TV tuned for further information, and gather emergency supplies.

Tornado Warning:

  • Tornado has been sighted or is imminent.
  • Take shelter immediately in the basement of a sturdy building.
  • If there is no basement – avoid windows and go to an interior hallway or small interior room, on the lowest floor, such as a bathroom or a closet
  • Do not remain in a trailer or mobile home if a tornado is approaching.
  • Take cover in a sturdier building or in a ditch.
  • If you are in a high-rise building, go to the most interior rooms or hallways.
  • At schools, hospitals, factories or shopping centers:
  • Stay out of structures with wide free-span roofs like auditoriums and gyms. In a car or outside: Seek cover in a nearby building, or lie flat in a ditch or ravine.
  • If outside or in a car – seek cover in a nearby building or lie flat in a ditch or ravine. Avoid seeking shelter under an overpass or bridge.