According to The Weather Channel, we are in our "Second Severe Season," which means that Fall is notorious for severe storms and tornadoes in the south. Not only are we faced with this every Fall, but this year is exceptional in the fact that we are in an El Nino year.
In hopes that all our readers stay safe out there this season, here are some tornado safety tips if you're caught in your car.
1. Do not try to outrun a tornado.
Trying to outrun a tornado is a bad idea because tornadoes have the potential to travel over 60 mph and they don't follow road patterns. If you MUST keep driving, do so on a 90 degree angle away from the tornado. This is a good strategy to follow in order to distance yourself from the severe weather.
2. Do pull over and evacuate your vehicle.
If you see a tornado developing where you are driving, the best thing to do is to pull over and evacuate your vehicle. Seek shelter in the nearest sturdy building or storm shelter; do not hide under your car--the wind could potentially roll your car over. If there is no available shelter, find the nearest ditch or low-lying area and crouch low to the ground while covering your head with your arms.
3. Do try to find a sturdy structure for shelter.
The more walls between you and the tornado, the better off you are. Potentially sturdy structures to look for while driving are fast food restaurants and banks. Fast food restaurants usually will have a cooler that could withstand a tornado, similar to a safe in a bank.
4. Do not try to seek shelter in an underpass.
Underpasses seem like a safe place to hide during a tornado; this is actually a commonly known myth. Simply because they are above ground, underpasses can actually be a dangerous place to get caught during a tornado. Winds from a tornado can accelerate through the small spaces of an underpass, causing it to collapse or causing your car to be blown away.
5. Be aware.
This seems simple, but it is important to be aware of your surroundings and to know what parishes (or counties--depending on where you are from!) have watches and warnings issued for a tornado. Remember: a tornado watch means that there are conditions that point to tornado capabilities; a tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted somewhere near you.