Monday, March 26, 2012

Severe Weather Myths: Overpasses

Severe Weather Myth: An Overpass is a safe place to hide from a tornado.

A famous video (click HERE to view) from the early 90s is largely to blame for this myth. The theory is that if you’re driving along the highway and find yourself in the direct path of a tornado, the best place to hide is under an overpass. Well it turns out that is actually one of the worst places to be. The bridge funnels the air currents and acts like a wind tunnel, actually increasing the wind speeds!

In the video a film crew, along with a family, hide under the girders for protection. Since this clip has been released others have attempted the same protective course of action, only to end in a much more tragic fashion. In the video, although it looks like the tornado went directly overhead, it did not. Barely missing the family/film crew and sparing them from the strongest winds.  

So what SHOULD you do if you come up to a tornado in the road? It’s a good question without a single answer. Many times you will be able to simply stop or speed away from the storm. If that is not the case, a next best step is to get out of your car and hide as low as possible in a ditch. Keep in mind you want to avoid a flooded ditch and by exiting your car, you become exposed to flying debris, hail, etc. If this moment happens to you, there is no guidebook, just instincts. But one thing is for sure, don’t use overpasses to try and protect yourself.