Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms are more frequent in South Florida than most people realize. According to the National Weather Service, Since 1996, South Florida has averaged 11 reported tornadoes per year,and since 1950 a total of 154 tornadoes of EF-1 or EF-2 intensity on the Enhanced Fujita Scale (winds greater than 85 mph) have occurred. South Florida tornadoes occur with a variety of weather systems:

  • strong winter/spring cold fronts;
  • waterspouts moving onshore;
  • and tornadoes embedded in the outer rain bands of tropical storms and hurricanes.

The relatively small and short-lived nature of most South Florida tornadoes means that it is very difficult to give plenty of advance warning. In many cases, only a few minutes of warning are given between the time a warning is issued by the national weather service and the tornado touchdown. Nevertheless, even a few minutes of warning can make the difference between life and death. Having a NOAA Weather Radio is a critical component of the warning system. Having a weather radio available to alert of an approaching tornado has saved lives. When a tornado threatens your area, stay inside and go to an interior room without windows. In a multi-story building, go to the lowest floor.

Upon determination of the threat of a tornado, either a “take shelter” or “duck and cover,” depending on available space. When a tornado or severe thunderstorm has been detected either through National Weather Service Doppler weather radar or a trained SYWARN ™ storm spotter, the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Miami will issue a warning. Warnings are communicated directly from the National Weather Service 24 hours a day, seven days a week through NOAA All Hazards Radio, through the internet at and through local media by way of the emergency alert system.

If you or your business does not have a severe weather preparedness plan, contact Emergency Management at 305.673.7736 or the National Weather Service  for assistance.

Members of the City of Miami each CERT Team train to be SYWARN ™ Storm Spotters and help your neighbors and community. For more information, contact Miami Beach Emergency Management