EL PASO, Texas -- Have you ever heard this statement? "Tornadoes don't form in the Borderland?" It's a common belief shared by many Borderland residents. The Franklin Mountains are a beautiful part of the Sun City's skyline. The rumor mill has been spinning for years and many locals believe the mountain range keeps us safe from tornadoes. Tornadoes also called twisters, or whirlwinds are rapidly rotating columns of air that are both in contact with the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud. Tornadoes can last just a few seconds or in some cases, more than an hour. They can be extremely powerful and cause a great deal of damage, but why don't we see them very often?
National Weather Service Meteorologist Jason Laney says, "the main reason we don't see as many tornadoes is that we don't get quite as many thunderstorms and we don't have quite as much moisture."
Moisture is the number one ingredient that fuels thunderstorms which we see a lot of during our monsoon season.
"We don't see the turning of the wind that is necessary to create the supercells that produce tornadoes," Laney said.
There are different types of tornadoes but the most common in our region are landspout tornadoes. According to the National Weather Service, 48 tornadoes have touched down in our area since 1970. The last tornadoes to do structural damage were both in Otero county not far from Alamogordo.
The best way to prepare for a tornado is to pay attention to changing weather conditions with the StormTrack Weather team. Flying debris causes most deaths and injuries during a tornado. Over the years doppler radar has made it possible, to detect a tornado's winds. In some cases, it is also possible to detect the flying debris created by a tornado with radar.
If you know thunderstorms are expected, watch ABC-7. Here's how you can protect yourself and your family. If you are in a house -- go to the basement or the lowest possible level. Stay away from windows and doors get as many walls between you and the outdoors. Closets and bathrooms offer the most protection. If you are outside or in a mobile home, find a nearby building. If you are in a car, do not try to outrun a tornado find the nearest sturdy building. While our mountains may be beautiful, they don't prevent tornadoes. The borderland -- just happens to not get them as regularly as other parts of the country.