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Busting common tornado myths: how to stay safe!

With heavy weather expected Wednesday night and Thursday morning, we wanted to dispel some common misunderstandings about tornadoes. We’re hoping this info will help keep you safe!

1. Is a bridge or underpass a safe place to ride out a tornado?

NO! Bridges and overpasses are not safe shelters from tornadoes. The structures may enhance the winds and blast flying debris into and under the structure, and into you! A strong tornado may even cause the bridge or overpass to collapse on top of you. If you’re driving and encounter a tornado moving toward you, your best option is to drive in the opposite direction and attempt to get out of its path.

2. Can tornadoes cross hills, rivers or other geographic features?

YES! While it’s possible terrain can influence tornado formation, and may play some role in supporting where tornadoes track, there is no evidence suggesting tornadoes cannot cross hills, rivers, or river valleys. Valleys and mountains do not appear to offer any significant protection once a tornado develops and its track becomes established. The fact that a particular location has avoided being struck by a tornado has more to do with luck than the terrain surrounding that location.

3. Should I open the windows on my house before a tornado hits?

NO! Opening windows in your home to relieve the pressure changes in a tornado is useless and a waste of precious time. If a tornado hits your house, it most likely will break windows anyway. Stay away from windows during a tornado and get to as low a place as possible.

If you’re in your car and a tornado is far away, you should turn around and drive AWAY from it. If it’s bearing down upon you, the American Red Cross says if flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options as a last resort:

o Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the
windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
o If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway,
exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your
Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.

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