By Tradd Mills, Emergency Management Coordinator
In 2019, a tornado in Franklin destroyed much of the town with winds of 136-165 mph, just 40 miles from the heart of College Station. Fortunately, only about a dozen minor injuries were reported, but the dangerous EF-3 twister served as a wake-up call for our community.
It’s not as if we needed another warning.
Texas leads the nation with an average of 137 tornadoes each year, and more than 60 percent of these storms occur from April to June.
Our neighbors in Bryan have had two destructive tornadoes in the last four years. In 2016, an EF-1 tornado battered several neighborhoods along a two-mile path, damaging more than 150 homes. In 2019, an EF-2 twister damaged several buildings and severely injured a man east of town.
Tornadoes aren’t limited to the spring and summer, either. In December 2006, a twister moved south to north for five miles across central College Station and did considerable damage along FM2818, Southwest Parkway, and Texas Avenue. The National Weather Service rated that tornado as an EF-1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with winds estimated at 110 miles per hour.
Since 2000, Brazos County has experienced more than a dozen EF-0 or EF-1 tornadoes.
While our community has had its share of funnel clouds and tornado scares over the years, we’ve managed to escape any loss of life or catastrophic damage. In fact, straight-line winds and microbursts have caused more property damage here than twisters.
Although strong tornadoes are uncommon in our area, recent history proves that powerful tornadoes can happen here. And our local incidents show that even small twisters have the potential to be violent.
Those storms are vivid reminders of why it’s essential to know how to prepare and react to a tornado. These links provide in-depth information about what to do before, during, and after a tornado:
National Weather Service videos:
- Get Weather Ready: Before a Tornado
- Get Weather Ready: During a Tornado
- Get Weather Ready: After a Tornado
College Station doesn’t have outdoor tornado sirens, so when severe weather approaches, pay close attention to local radio and television stations. They do an excellent job of providing pertinent information, including tornado watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service. But keep in mind that tornadoes can occur even if a watch or warning hasn’t been given.
In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials. If a violent storm approaches or strikes the Bryan-College Station area, these are the best ways to monitor events and get timely information:
- Own a NOAA Weather Radio: The radio’s alarm tone will automatically activate when the NOAA National Weather Service issues a warning. NOAA Weather Radio is also available as a smartphone app.
- Monitor local television and radio stations: They broadcast Emergency Alert System messages, watches and warnings, and other vital information.
- Brazos County Emergency Notification System: The system notifies citizens of local emergencies that occur day or night on their cell phones and landlines. To register your mobile phone number to receive notifications, go to brazosceoc.org/alerts.
- Code Maroon: To register to receive Texas A&M’s Code Maroon alerts by email or text message, go to codemaroon.tamu.edu.
- Blogs: City of College Station, Community Emergency Operations Center.
- Twitter: City of College Station (@Cityof CS), City of Bryan (@CityofBryan), Texas A&M Code Maroon (@TAMUCodeMaroon).
- Facebook: Brazos County Community Emergency Operations Center, City of College Station, City of Bryan.
- Websites: City of College Station Emergency Management, Brazos County Department of Emergency Management, City of Bryan Emergency Management, Texas A&M Emergency Management, Federal Emergency Management Agency, NOAA Storm Prediction Center, American Red Cross.
Recommended Mobile Apps
Some useful mobile apps are available for smartphones and tablets. Many of these have emergency alert capabilities. Here are some recommended apps you can find in your favorite app store:
- Tornado: American Red Cross
- NOAA Weather Radar Live
- Storm Tracker
- Storm Radar: Weather Tracker
- Tornado Free
Just because tornadoes are relatively rare in our area doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant and well-prepared. Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms, and we should always stand ready to handle whatever comes our way.
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