The thought of a strong tornado ripping up a city is enough to give anybody nightmares. These weather events are notorious for causing mass destruction, leaving homes and businesses in ruin.
In modern times, meteorologists are getting much better at understanding and predicting tornadoes to give residents enough warning to prepare or evacuate.
It’s commonly known that tornadoes need the combination of wind sheer, instability, and moisture to form and that they typically form in the late afternoon or early evening. But what about at night?
Do tornadoes happen at night?
In short, yes, tornadoes can and do form at night. Whilst tornadoes during the night are not as common as tornadoes that form in the late afternoon, they can be just as dangerous if conditions are optimal.
Can Tornadoes Form At Night?
In the United States tornadoes are often formed between the hours of 4 – 9 pm and tend to happen in tornado season, typically in June or July.
However, it’s important to note that tornadoes can happen at any time of the year and at any time of the day, even during the night.
Nocturnal tornadoes are incredibly dangerous and happen each and every year in the United States.
Do Tornadoes Usually Happen At Night?
A study from Northern Illinois University found that only around 27 percent of tornadoes happen during the night, and most tornado-related deaths happen between the hours of midnight and 6 am.
During these hours many of us are at home sleeping, therefore local weather is not being monitored as it would be during the day.
Couple this with the fact that night tornadoes are incredibly hard to see and are only usually illuminated by lightning.
This makes tornadoes that happen at night highly dangerous and a larger threat than tornadoes that happen during the day.
How Can You Tell If A Tornado Is Coming At Night?
One of the dangers of a night tornado is that when they strike often they can come completely unexpected and catch people off guard.
This is because news stations, weather reporters and almost everybody is sleeping, and communication devices such as mobile phones tend to be switched off or on silent.
Therefore the chances of being alerted early of a tornado during the night are slim, making the event all that more dangerous.
However, there are some ways to tell if a tornado may be coming during the night that can give you an early warning sign.
1. Weather Shift
First, look out for a strong wind shift as well as heavy rain, hail as well as thunder, and lightning. These can be signs that the weather is shifting and a tornado may be on the way.
2. Roaring Sound
You’ll also likely hear the unmistakable roaring sound that sounds very much like a train.
This sound often comes moments before a tornado strikes and is a sure sign that you need to move to the safest place in your house immediately, ideally a tornado bunker.
3. Wall Of Cloud
Whilst spotting a wall of cloud may be difficult under the cover of darkness, they descent from a storm and form a pedestal at the base.
Tornadoes build from updrafts, and witnessing a wall cloud could tell you that the conditions are just right for a tornado to form.
4. Falling Debris
If you start to hear banging on your roof or windows, this could be falling debris that has been picked up from a nearby tornado.
While tornadoes travel they pick up debris and bring it up high into the sky. As the tornado continues on its path this debris may begin to fall from the sky and land on your home.
This is one of the most dangerous aspects of a tornado and is a sure sign that a tornado is close by if you start to notice falling debris.
5. Notice A Sudden Calm After A Storm
Tornadoes are known to come shortly after the thrashing of a powerful thunderstorm. Heavy rain, hail, and winds will all of a sudden stop because the tornado consumed the storm system.
That said, sometimes the calm can be genuine and mean that the storm has passed. But sometimes you’ll find that everything settles and there is an eery calm before a tornado hits.
How To Stay Prepared For A Tornado At Night
When it comes to staying safe and prepared in the event of a tornado at night, it’s wise to invest in a weather radio that you leave on all night.
These radios connect to the nearest national weather service station which broadcast important weather updates even during the night.
It’s also a good idea to leave your mobile phone on at night, or allow weather and emergency alerts to come through even on do not disturb.
Most modern-day smartphones are capable of receiving wireless emergency alerts from the national weather service.
You should have a plan devised ahead of time so that you and your family know exactly what to do should you have a rude awakening from a night tornado.
Ensure there’s a flashlight near your bedside and that you have a clear route to your basement or tornado bunker.
All of these tips are even more important if you happen to live in the central USA, also known as tornado alley.
This part of the US is prone to tornadoes, especially in the warm months of June and July.
Do tornadoes happen at night? Absolutely! A recent study found that 27 percent of tornadoes happen during the night, and most tornadoes deaths happen between the hours of midnight and 6 am.
A tornado in the middle of the night is quite literally a nightmare scenario, so ensuring you’re prepared and equipped for such an event is crucial.
Follow the guidance above to ensure that you can be alerted as soon as possible should there be a tornado in your area.
It’s also worth remembering that tornadoes can happen at any time of year and any time of the day, so being prepared all year round is wise.
I hope you’ve found some value in reading this post and have learned why tornadoes happen at night.
See you in the next one!
Hey, I’m Sam – the founder of GustyPlanet. I’ve had a fascination with all things weather for as long as I can remember. I witnessed my first tornado at the age of 6, and since then became an avid storm chaser that is hooked on learning as much as I can about extreme weather. This blog was created to share my knowledge and to expand and delve deeper into the wonderful world of weather phenomena. I hope you enjoy your stay here and thanks for visiting.