Tornado On The Road
April 15, 2015
If you encounter a tornado on the road, what should you do? The driver in the video above was faced with this situation and he had no idea what he should do to escape the force of the tornado. According to the experts, he made one mistake but he also did the correct thing.
We’re in the height of tornado season and, while most tornados at this time of year occur in the plains states, tornadoes can form anywhere there are thunderstorms. Thanks to a 1991 video by a Kansas TV crew, a lot of people think that a highway overpass is the safest place to seek shelter from a storm but weather experts say that an overpass can be the most dangerous place of all to seek shelter. There are several reasons for that:
- The structure of the overpass can channel the winds into a wind tunnel effect and make them even stronger.
- Flying debris, traveling at up to 200 mph, can be channeled up into the narrower parts of the overpass and can do as much damage as a bullet. In the Kansas TV video, you can see debris being sucked up toward the area where the people are hiding.
- The wind under the overpass can change as much as 180 degrees.
- There are no handholds to cling to as the storm passes.
It turns out that the Kansas film crew was just extremely lucky that the tornado wasn’t that strong.
So what should you do if you encounter a tornado on the road? Weather experts offer the following advice:
- Do not seek shelter under an overpass.
- If there’s time, pull off the road and seek shelter in a strong building. Remain in the lowest part of the building in a windowless room or hallway if possible.
- If you can’t get to a building, seek an area such as a culvert or ditch below the level of the roadway; Cover your head with your hands.
- If there is nowhere to escape, remain in your vehicle with your seat belt fastened; lay down below window level and cover your head with a coat or blanket, if possible.
The man in the video above made a mistake by backing up under the overpass but he made the right choice by remaining inside his vehicle and laying down below the window level. He was very fortunate.
Remember, just because the funnel cloud has passed, you aren’t out of danger yet. Straight line winds that flow outside the area of the funnel cloud can do more damage than the funnel cloud itself. Another video from the recent tornado in Illinois shows a semi toppling over well after the funnel cloud had passed.
For more information on storm safety and how to deal with a tornado on the road, read: Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, Lightning…Nature’s Most Violent Storms