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How can Long Islanders prepare for tornadoes?

Damage from a tornado that touched down in

Damage from a tornado that touched down in Bohemia in 2012. Credit: James Carbone

For Long Islanders wondering how to protect their homes after a tornado touched down in Ronkonkoma Tuesday night, there is news both good and bad: It is easier to protect yourself than to protect your home.

“The goal is basically to put as many walls in between you and the outside as possible,” says Faye Morrone, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Upton.

A basement is the ideal place to wait out the storm, she says. For those whose houses do not have basements, Morrone suggests finding an interior bathroom or hallway. “And cover your head,” she adds. 

But protecting a home often requires more long-term solutions. Liberty Mutual Insurance, in an online post, suggests removing or securing any outdoor objects that could go flying in strong winds — outdoor furniture, plants and planters, children’s toys, trees that might fall on the house or nearby electrical lines — as well as checking over exterior features such as the roof, chimney and brickwork. The company also recommends installing storm shutters or attaching plywood to windows, reinforcing the garage door, and installing hurricane clips or straps to secure the roof.

Tornadoes are not as common on Long Island as they are in the Midwest, but the island is not immune to them, Morrone says. Before Tuesday’s storm, Long Island had not seen a confirmed tornado since August 2012, according to Morrone. The 2012 incidence was an EF0-rated tornado. So was Tuesday's.

Long Island does not have a distinct tornado season, says Morrone, but many New York tornadoes take place during summer months. The strongest documented tornadoes on the island since 1950 have fallen into the EF2 category, the most recent having passed through Suffolk County on Aug. 8, 1999, according to records kept by the National Weather Service, Morrone says.

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