Tornado Myths

Tornadoes are one of natures most elusive and dangerous phenomena.  They can appear quickly without warning and dissipate just as fast.  The myths that surround this weather occurrence can make tornadoes even more dangerous to those who are unlucky enough to be in their path.

Myth #1:

The southwest corner of a basement or first floor of a house is the safest………

Tornadoes, although they can travel from any direction, generally travel from the southwest to northeast.  Recent studies have proven that the corner closest to the approaching tornado is the least safe area to be in.  A house will shift on its foundation during a tornado to the northeast if hit from the southwest, collapsing the southwest side.  This would also apply if the tornado was moving from the southeast to northwest, in this case the southeast side could collapse.

Myth #2:

Some places are protected……..

This belief probably arose from legends of tornadoes not hitting between rivers or on mountains.  Although tornadoes are a rare occurrence in some areas they can strike rivers, mountains and valleys at any time.  There are no protected places when it comes to this act of nature, only luck and probability.

Myth #3:

Tornadoes never hit big cities………

Tornadoes have hit big cities in the past and recently.  Studies have shown that a small weaker tornado may be affected and disrupted by heating from the city, but larger tornadoes are more likely to intensify.  The probability of a tornado hitting a big city is lower because the city area takes up only a small portion of the landscape.

Myth #4:

Opening windows to equalize air pressure……..

This is dangerous and a waste of time, time that you should be using to get to an interior room or basement.  Flying debris, such as boards, trees, and cars, will most likely open the windows for you before the pressure can become an issue.

Myth #5:

Highway overpasses are a safe shelter……..

Climbing up under a highway overpass is dangerous.  This puts you above ground level where the tornado winds are stronger.  Winds are funneled under the overpass increasing velocity and possibly pulling you out from under the overpass.

Myth #6:

Tornadoes only occur during tornado season……..

Tornadoes can occur anytime of the year given the right atmosphere for development, even in the coldest months of the year.

In the event of thunderstorm development, the weather should be monitored closely day or night.  Information to protect yourself during tornadoes can be found at