Storm Week 2010: Killer Winds in Texoma

Prime time for tornadoes in Texoma is during the spring months of March through May and you probably don't realize that there a second mini-season during the month of October.

It's during these times of the year that huge areas of warm and cold air meet. You know how it is here in Texoma, it's cold one day and warm the next. It's this scenario that produces large thunderstorms, known as supercells. Here's how they work:

Along the boundary where warm moist air and cool dry air meet, a thunderstorm forms. If the winds throughout the atmosphere are strong enough, it will cause this storm to spin or rotate, forming a supercell storm. Twisting and violent wind patterns spin upward in the rear of the storm. This marks the strongest updrafts, or rapidly rising warm air. It's under these developing updrafts that tornadoes can spring to life. And when a Texoma tornado is born, it strikes hard and fast, sometimes moving at speeds upward to 40 or 60 mph, leaving little time to take cover.

Here are a few clues on what to look for when a tornado is coming.  Knowing what to look for can give you a few extra seconds to take cover.

Often times hail falls before the tornado strikes and this can make the sky look green.
If you see debris such as sticks or leaves falling out of the sky, don't just stand there! Take cover because strong winds could be close by. Also, Texoma tornadoes are often accompanied by non stop lighting.

Sometimes, tornadoes can be hard to see due to trees or hills.  Tornadoes can often be hidden from heavy rain, and this is called a "rain-wrapped tornado."  These storms are incredibly dangerous because you simply can't see it coming.

The tornado that struck Wichita Falls in April of 1979 was a violent EF-4 tornado, with winds more than 150 miles per hour. It struck in the late afternoon, leaving 44 people dead. Afternoon and evening is the prime time for tornadoes to develop. This time of day is typically the warmest and it's the warm air that gives thunderstorms the fuel they need to grow strong.