CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — There are very few things more terrifying than the sound and fury of a tornado. Now, imagine trying to survive one that hits in the middle of the night.
Data shows that 1 in 50 daylight tornadoes turns deadly, while that jumps to 1 in 20 for twisters that hit under the cover of darkness.
Arkansas and Alabama saw 50 percent or more of the tornadoes that occurred coming as nighttime storms. North Carolina and Tennessee have similarly high rates of night tornadoes.
NewsNation meteorologist Gerard Jebaily said tornadoes require a lot of atmospheric energy to get going, and the combination of storms caused by daytime heating along with low-level jet stream winds that kick in after dark can breed nighttime tornadoes.
The traditional “tornado alley” in large part no longer exists, with storms spreading across the deep South and occurring in any month of the year. There’s really no “safe” time when the threat of tornadoes doesn’t exist.
Another factor at play is that more people are at home at night, and frequently those homes aren’t as well-built or sturdy as places of business. Mobile homes are infamous for becoming death traps during tornadoes, but older homes in poor repair or simply homes that weren’t built sturdily are also danger zones.
Most areas have automated weather warnings, but if people are in bed and have their cellphones muted, or if they’re not watching television where the warning will show, they won’t know of the impending danger.
Your best bet is to have a weather radio that will activate when a weather warning is issued and keep it in your bedroom where it will wake you if danger approaches in the night.