See also: Preparing for Thunderstorms
Preparing for Lightning

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornadoes are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees, and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. Tornadoes can occur at any time of day or night and in northwest Iowa, are most common in the spring and summer months.

Dickinson County has seen its share of tornadoes, most notably the deadly tornado of 1936, the Memorial Day 1942 twister, and the tornado of 1968 which struck Arnolds Park.


A violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground.

Tornado Watch: Be Prepared!
Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives! The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.

Tornado Warning: Take Action!
A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a tornado identified by a forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement who is watching the storm.


During a Tornado

Acting quickly is key to staying safe and minimizing impacts.

After a Tornado