Tornado and Severe Weather Watch

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It’s time to be prepared for the season of severe weather.

About Tornadoes

Tornadoes occur more often in the United States than any other country.

“Typically it occurs in the spring and then again in the fall, as the different weather patterns change and the jet streams overhead and there’s that energy in the atmosphere that can produce strong, damaging storms,” said Dan Nelson, the city’s emergency manager.

But what exactly is a tornado?

“A violently rotating column of air, in touch with the ground, protruding from a thunderstorm,” explained retired meteorologist Allan Fisher.

And knowing the difference between a tornado warning and a tornado watch is just as important.

“A tornado watch typically is in effect for six to eight hours,” said Nelson. “That means the conditions are right for a tornado to occur. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted, is indicated on a radar, or a tornado has already come down and gone back up. But that storm still exists and there’s still rotation in it, so they’ll keep issuing warnings out in front of those storms as they march across.”

Naperville’s Emergency Management Agency

For an extra line of protection, Naperville’s Emergency Management Agency, or NEMA, teaches residents the signs of a storm, and what to do if you’re caught in one.

“Flying debris is what hurts and kills people,” added Nelson. “So typically an interior bathroom or a basement is the best place to be. Your car is not safe. You do not want to be in a car. They can get picked up and thrown around. The same thing with if you saw the video a couple years ago of people going under an interstate underpass. Those are not safe either. You need to be inside of a structure. ”

Fisher leads NEMA’s training classes. The volunteer-based group supports emergency services at major events, such as last year’s Ribfest.

“They learn how to go online [and] interpret the storm prediction center to get a feeling of what kind of storms are we after,” said Fisher. “Are we looking at large hailstorms? Are we looking at high windstorms? If it’s a tornado threat, if it’s a big threat, if it’s a little threat.”

“In my work life previously, I would never have gotten an opportunity to go out and do damage assessment for example,” said 12-year NEMA volunteer Kent Tevault. “I would never have an opportunity to sit and watch the weather radar and decide ‘do I push the button or not?’”

Tornado Statistics

According to, Will County saw 69 tornados with 34 fatalities from 1955 to 2017. DuPage County saw 26 tornados with four fatalities within that same time span.

It’s recommended to keep up to date with the latest storm warnings and watches through the National Weather Service.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.