Tornadoes on the Beach

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Tornadoes can strike anywhere if weather conditions are right. Here in Texas, we are more accustomed to experiencing hurricanes on our shores, but tornadoes have been known to strike. Within the past 18 months, we have experienced severe weather events near Corpus Christi and Seadrift, as well as many more in previous years.

There has long been an argument that tornadoes are less likely to strike coastal areas because of the climatic conditions there. In general, coastal areas have lower temperatures than inland areas, and the resultant cooler air means that the air is more stable, and will suppress severe weather if it blows in from the ocean or from further inland. While this is often the case, and coastal areas are less likely to experience major thunderstorms (apart from hurricanes), there can still be severe weather that spawns tornadoes if climatic conditions are right, including along the Texas Gulf Coast.

As you begin to plan your trip to the beach for the Spring and Summer months, you should always keep the possibility of severe weather in mind and always have a plan. Severe weather that can spawn tornadoes is most likely when coastal winds that provide cooler air to coastal areas are not in action. This can be either earlier in the morning, if the wind is blowing away from the coast, or if the wind offshore is weak. In these instances, thunderstorms can develop more easily and the possibility of tornadoes greatly increases. Other climatic conditions that can lead to tornadoes include:

  • Waterspouts: While typically weaker than conventional tornadoes, they can occasionally move inland after developing over the ocean or another large, open body of water.
  • Hurricanes: If the extreme wind and rain of a hurricane weren’t enough, tornadoes can sometimes spawn in ahead of a hurricane’s approach.

Thunderstorm events that spawn tornadoes tend to be common during the Spring and Summer months, when there is a greater mix of warm air from inland areas mixing with the cool air coming off of the coast. If you’re headed to the coast this year, there are a few things to keep in mind to stay safe in the event of severe weather or a tornado:

  • Move to a central location in the home: If you have a central room in the home or building, such as a restroom or one that otherwise offers more protection, go there. This will give you more protection in the event that a tornado strikes the building.
  • Stay away from windows: Besides going to a central room or basement (if available), the single best thing you can do to keep you safe in the event of a storm is to stay away from windows. These can easily break in extreme wind or if debris is flying around outside.
  • Monitor local weather reports: Keeping an eye on new developments with the weather will help you and your family be prepared, since our weather can often change quickly.

If you are headed to the beach this summer, have fun, and stay safe! If severe weather strikes, remember to always have a plan so you and your family can have peace of mind as you hit the beaches of Texas.

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