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Tornado safety important at Buckley

With the view of the Rocky Mountains out the window, it’s possible to forget Buckley Air Force Base’s location on the western edge of Tornado Alley. However, as recent thunderstorms should remind Team Buckley, tornado safety should always be kept in mind. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration photo by Daphne Zaras)

With the view of the Rocky Mountains out the window, it’s possible to forget Buckley Air Force Base’s location on the western edge of Tornado Alley. However, as recent thunderstorms should remind Team Buckley, tornado safety should always be kept in mind. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration photo by Daphne Zaras)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- With the view of the Rocky Mountains out the window, it's possible to forget Buckley Air Force Base's location on the western edge of Tornado Alley. However, as recent thunderstorms remind Team Buckley, tornado safety should always be kept in mind.

"Last June, a tornado with approximately 100-mile-per-hour winds struck Aurora," said Stephen McMillan, 460th Space Wing ground safety manager. "Four weaker tornadoes also touched down near Buckley. Thankfully, no one was killed, but there was plenty of property damage. It happened here last year, and could happen again."

The National Weather Service helps warn residents when a tornado is likely as well as when one has already touched down. Knowing the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning can help residents take appropriate action.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a tornado watch indicates that tornadoes are possible in an area.

"It does not mean tornadoes are imminent, just that you need to be alert and prepared to go to a safe shelter if tornadoes do happen or a warning is issued," reads NOAA's Web site. "This is the time to turn on local TV or radio, turn on and set the alarm switch on your weather radio, make sure you have access to safe shelter and make your friends and family aware of the potential for tornadoes in the area."

A tornado warning, on the other hand, means a tornado has been spotted or that radar indicates a thunderstorm likely to produce a tornado. NOAA recommends taking immediate safety precautions.

If at work on Buckley when a tornado strikes or a tornado warning is declared, follow the shelter-in-place procedures established at each work section.

In the event of a tornado, NOAA gives the following safety tips:
- Get to a basement, or if the building has no basement, a small center room on the lowest floor.
- Avoid windows, other glass and heavy objects on the floor above.
- Take cover under a mattress, sleeping bag or other padding.
- If in a mobile home or a vehicle, get out. Run to the nearest sturdy, permanent building, or if none is close, lie flat on low ground away from the home or vehicle, stay out of traffic and protect your head.
- If in the open, seek shelter in a sturdy, permanent building if possible. Otherwise, lie flat, face-down on low ground, protecting the back of the head with your arms. Stay away from trees and cars.
- Do not take shelter under a bridge; this is actually one of the worst places to be during a tornado due to funneled winds and flying debris.
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