All Weather News

Tornado Myths Can Be Dangerous

9 Apr 2017, 5:06 pm

As we head farther into spring tornadoes will become more and more common and it’s very important to understand fact from fiction about them.
There are many widely believed myths or misconceptions concerning tornadoes that could put people in danger if they adhere to those beliefs.
Here are a few of the most popular myths concerning tornadoes.


Seeking shelter under an overpass is safe – MYTH
An overpass is not a safe shelter if a tornado is approaching.
If parked under an overpass remember winds will funnel under the bridge and accelerate, which may push you and your vehicle around more.
The faster wind speeds under an overpass will accelerate debris and objects making it more dangerous than just being in your car not under an overpass.

A tornado is more likely to hit a mobile home park. – MYTH
Tornadoes are not more likely to hit a mobile home park, but the chances of them doing more damage and destruction to mobile homes are greater than to other structures. There are thousands of mobile homes located in tornado alley, and the damage seen in mobile home parks is significantly worse than what would occur in a neighborhood of frame homes. Even the weakest of tornadoes can flip and destroy a mobile home, when a frame home would receive little to no damage in the same storm.

Opening windows equalizes pressure – MYTH
Homes are damaged and destroyed by the extremely strong winds in a tornado, not pressure. If a tornado is approaching, you should seek shelter immediately. Taking the time to open all of your windows will put you in danger and will not protect your home from forceful winds.  Not only that but open windows may lead to more destruction allowing rain, wind and hail inside.

Tornadoes cannot cross lakes, large rivers or wide bodies of water- MYTH
Tornadoes that form on land can cross bodies of water, including rivers and lakes. Tornadoes can also form on water. These tornadoes are called “waterspouts.” Never think that a body of water will protect you from a tornado.

Take shelter in the southwest corner of a basement- MYTH
This myth comes from the fact that most tornadoes move from southwest to northeast.  The safest place to take shelter during a tornado is an interior room or bathtub on the lowest floor of your home or building, as far as possible from exterior walls and windows. Strong tornadoes can easily hurl debris through brick and cement walls.

Living on a mountain protects you from a tornado – MYTH
There is a belief that a tornado form or travel up/down a mountainside. Tornadoes have been witnesses on mountains as high as 12,000 feet above sea level and have the ability to travel up a ridge unaffected for at least 3,000 feet. In a 2011 tornado outbreak several parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia and Georgia had tornado touchdowns in their mountainous regions. A mountain will not protect you from a tornado.

Tornadoes never strike the same area twice – MYTH
Tornadoes can strike any area at any time, regardless of past history. For instance, Cordell, Kansas was hit by tornadoes on the same day, May 20, three years in a row. Also, three different tornadoes hit the same church in Guy, Arkansas on the same day.

Tornado intensity based on funnel size – MYTH
Over the past 6 decades there have been more than 100+ violent tornadoes (F4/EF4+) with just a maximum width of 300 feet. It’s also common for a tornado to change sizes during its lifecycle, making size as an estimate for intensity an invalid method. Do not ignore a tornado because it’s small or try to get a picture; seek shelter immediately.


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