The following safety guidelines and recommendations should be
adopted by spotters, storm chasers and weather researchers when
working in or near dangerous storms. The following should be
adapted or modified to meet your teams specific severe weather
Keeping yourself and others safe is the number
one priority. Work done around severe storms is done at your
own risk. Severe storms can and are deadly.
11 Standard Tornado Orders
- Keep informed on tornado weather conditions and
- Know what your tornado is doing at all times.
- Base all actions on current and expected behavior of the
- Identify escape routes and safety zones, and make them
- Post lookouts when there is possible danger.
- Be alert. Keep calm. Think clearly. Act decisively.
- Maintain prompt communications with your forces, your
supervisor, and adjoining forces.
- Give clear instructions and insure they are understood.
- Maintain control of your forces at all times.
- Communicate retreat procedures and assembly points
- Perform scientific analysis of tornado activity
efficiently having provided for safety first.
Note: Added "retreat" order in light of the recent 4
storm chaser deaths May 31, 2013.
from the Standard Fire Orders developed in 1957 by a task force
commissioned by the USDA-Forest Service.
Eighteen Watch Out Situations
- Tornado not scouted and sized up.
- In country not seen in daylight.
- Safety zones and escape routes not identified.
- Unfamiliar with weather and local factors influencing
- Uninformed on strategy, tactics, and hazards.
- Instructions and assignments not clear.
- No communication link with crew members or supervisor.
- Deploying mobile mesonet's and probe lines without escape
- Deploying mobile mesonet's and probe lines without
sufficient tornado clearance
- Attempting core punching on a tornado.
- Potential debris between you and tornado.
- Cannot see main tornado; not in contact with someone who
- In area where debris can prevent escape.
- Weather becoming severe with limited visibility.
- Tornado increases in size and/or changes direction.
- Getting a multitude of tornados in observation area.
- Terrain and roads make escape to safety zones difficult.
- Taking eyes off sky near tornado.
From: ADVANCED SPOTTERS FIELD GUIDE
Keep aware of
the local environment at all times. When in the vicinity of
a thunderstorm, keep a 2-mile “buffer zone” between you and
Frequently check the sky overhead and behind to ensure no
unexpected events (such as a new tornado) are developing.
Always have an escape route available, in case threatening
weather approaches or if you get within the 2-mile “buffer
Public Safety Recommendation For Tornados
Standard Firefighting Orders and 18 Watchout
Situations - History
"The original ten Standard
Firefighting Orders were developed in 1957 by a task force
commissioned by the USDA-Forest Service Chief Richard E.
McArdle. The task force reviewed the records of 16 tragedy
fires that occurred from 1937 to 1956. The Standard
Firefighting Orders were based in part on the successful
"General Orders" used by the United States Armed Forces. The
Standard Firefighting Orders are organized in a deliberate
and sequential way to be implemented systematically and
applied to all fire situations.
Shortly after the Standard Firefighting Orders were
incorporated into firefighter training, the 18 Situations
That Shout Watch Out were developed. These 18 situations are
more specific and cautionary than the Standard Fire Orders
and described situations that expand the 10 points of the
Fire Orders. If firefighters follow the Standard
Firefighting Orders and are alerted to the 18 Watch Out
Situations, much of the risk of firefighting can be
Please use these guidelines as needed to assist in
keeping you and your team safe when working near
tornados and severe storms.
Please update and distribute as needed.
Copyright 2011-2013 by Tom Dolan. All rights reserved. Federal copyright law
prohibits unauthorized reproduction.