Dangerous Misconceptions about Tornadoes

Over the years, people have developed many different misconceptions about tornadoes and safety precautions because of stories and beliefs. These misconceptions can put a person’s life at risk when a tornado strikes.

Despite what some people have said, a highway overpass is not a safe place to seek shelter. Scientists actually believe that a highway overpass is one of the worst places to use for protection against a tornado. When a tornado goes over an overpass, the winds that are flowing under it become compressed and intensify.

One of the most ridiculous myths is that a vehicle can outrun a tornado. Sometimes, a car can outrun the average tornado, but a tornado is usually faster than a car. In severe weather, there are also other factors to consider, such as flooding rains, large hail and strong winds which can result in a car accident. It is better for a person to go home or a friend’s house as soon as he or she hears about bad weather in the area. However, if there is a tornado nearby, a person should pull over on the side of the road, get into the closest ditch, and cover his or her head.

Another common myth is that tornadoes do not hit big cities and tall buildings. However, big cities, such as Joplin, Missouri and Springfield, Massachusetts, were hit by tornadoes in 2011, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries and billions of dollars worth of damage.  The primary reason that tornadoes do not hit big cities often in the United States is that they usually form in “tornado alley” which is located in a rural area known as the Great Plains.

Some people also believe that if they open the windows in their home, it will minimize the damage and stop the house from exploding because of the pressure. This action is a complete waste of time. If a tornado hits a person’s house, it does not matter if the windows open because there will be damage anyway and a house cannot explode from pressure.

If there is severe weather that may lead to a tornado, people should be prepared with blankets, flashlights, extra batteries, a weather radio, and other important necessities. A basement, cellar, or storm shelter is the safest places to take shelter when a tornado strikes. Also, there should always be a safety plan in the event of severe weather.