The first sign of an approaching tornado should be an alert of a Tornado Warning, but if a twister is on the ground coming, will you hear it? Every tornado is unique. Still, those who have encountered the dangerous weather event have described the experience with a few similarities.
Many of the sounds associated with a tornado won’t be from the actual twister but from the effects of the tornado: Powerful wind, flying debris, hail, thunder, the popping of powerlines being snapped and tree branches flying away.
Most distinctly, ahead of a twister, you should hear the sound of tornado sirens or alerts from your FOX Weather app alerting you to the Tornado Warning.
In the video below, you can hear the wind whipping and the tornado sirens going off as a tornado moves through Tipp City, Ohio, in June 2022.
According to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, the actual sound of a tornado will depend on its size, intensity and how close you are to the twister.
"The most common tornado sound is a continuous rumble, like a nearby train. Sometimes a tornado produces a loud whooshing sound, similar to a waterfall, or the noise of open car windows while driving very fast," according to the SPC.
Tornadoes moving through urban or densely populated areas can create a lot of noise from debris that may sound like a tremendous roar, according to the SPC. These noises can sound similar to a strong thunderstorm.
Bowie, Maryland, resident James Martinez described to FOX Weather journalist Katie Byrne what it was like to experience the EF-1-rated tornado over the summer.
"I looked outside. The rain had stopped and dissipated, and it looked like it was over. So I came back inside and thought nothing was going to come of this," he said. "The next thing I hear was the wind whipping around … I couldn’t see the house next door. It was like a white wall of wind," Martinez recalled.
"There was a loud rumbling noise, and then I pretty much braced myself under the door frame … I heard a huge boom," he continued.
After the storm passed, he realized the twister brought a tree down into his bedroom, where he would have been moments prior.
In Crowell, Texas, several storm chasers were far enough away to avoid a tornado but close enough to hear the sound of the tornado inflow jet. The sound is distinct as air feeds into the base of the tornado.
Knowing when and where to take cover is more important than listening to an incoming tornado's roar. Make sure to have your location turned on in the FOX Weather app. If a Tornado Warning is issued for your area, the app will sound off, telling you it's time to take cover.