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Severe Weather Awareness Week: Protecting yourself during a tornado

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A tornado in 2012 caused damage to this home in Dexter. A tornado in 2012 caused damage to this home in Dexter.
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

It was over a year ago with winter winding down when storms hit Dexter that changed lives in the rural town.

At its strongest, the rare twister produced 140 mile per hour winds, and hail from the storms grew to ping-pong size.  Nearly 200 homes suffered at least minor damage.

Despite those impressive numbers, no lives were lost.

A tornado is defined as a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground -- one of nature's most violent storms.

The most destructive and lethal ones develop from supercells -- strong rotating thunderstorms -- but the truth is we don't fully understand how tornados form.

Severe weather can strike in seconds, so it's important to have a plan.  Get together with your family and talk about where to go and what to do in case of an emergency.  It is not a bad idea to have a disaster kit at the house filled with the essentials -- food, water and even some first aid supplies.

If you are in a sturdy building with a twister approaching, head to the basement.  If that is not an option, head to the center of an interior room on the lowest level possible.  The idea is to put as many walls between you and the outside danger.

Remember, when it comes to tornado safety, a mobile home does not have a safe spot, so have a plan.

What if you are outside stuck in your car?  Roll up the windows, buckle up, crouch down and cover your head.  The greatest threat in a tornado is from flying debris.

Peak severe season for metro Detroit is late Spring into early Summer, so now is a great time to brush up on your severe weather safety plan.

For more information on tornado safety, visit the following websites:

www.ready.gov/tornadoes

www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/important-tornado-safety-tips-1/30770

www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/index.html

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