A tornado is a violent whirlwind that usually develops in association with a severe thunderstorm. The winds in a tornado can exceed those measured in the most intense hurricanes. Wind speeds in an intense tornado are likely to rise above 200 mph. These violent winds are what make tornadoes so deadly - they can uproot and snap trees, down power lines, move or pick up cars and trucks, and destroy homes. In addition, the wind-thrown debris poses a serious hazard to people in the path of a tornado.

The paths of tornadoes can be very short, or they can extend for many miles. Not surprisingly, tornado ground speeds range from nearly stationary to over 50 miles per hour.

Tornadoes in Florida can form in a variety of ways, and in all seasons. However, many of Florida's tornadoes occur in the Spring and Summer months. Summer season tornadoes (June-September) typically occur along strong sea breeze boundary collisions, as well as from tropical cyclones.

Spring season tornadoes (February-May) can be more powerful and deadly as they are spawned from severe super-cells along a squall line ahead of a cold front. These types of tornadoes are also possible in the fall and winter months (October-January). While summer season tornadoes typically occur during the day, Spring season tornadoes can often strike in the middle of the night.

Florida tornado climatology shows us that strong to violent tornadoes are just as likely to occur after midnight as they are in the afternoon. This unique feature makes these tornadoes more dangerous, because most people are asleep after midnight and cannot receive weather warnings relayed by commercial radio or television stations.

The solution to this is to have a NOAA Weather Radio or AlertSumter. This will allow you to receive warnings issued by your Local National Weather Service office.