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What To Do if You See a Tornado While You’re Driving

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Tornado season might be coming to a close, but it brings up an important driving-related safety topic. What should you do if you’re on the road and see a tornado? Here are some words of advice to help you stay calm and safe in this risky situation.

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What not to do

It’s a common assumption that the safest place to be in a Tornado is either under a highway overpass — or to get out of your vehicle and lower yourself into the nearest ditch or depression in the ground. However, you should avoid doing both of these, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirms.

Overpasses won’t provide the same level of protection as an actual tornado shelter. In fact, the wind will be stronger in these openings, which in turn, increases the risk of flying debris. And lying in a ditch will expose you to the elements, as well as to flying debris. Though, the NOAA did claim that lying down in a ditch could be used as a last resort, if necessary.

Also, don’t seek shelter in a mobile home. According to the Red Cross, your car is safer than this type of structure when weathering out (no pun intended) a tornado.

Photo: rgaudet17

What to do

If a tornado is within your range of vision while driving, the best thing to do is immediately change course and head toward a sturdy shelter. If you’re far from home or a friend’s house, look for a restaurant, truck stop or convenience store nearby. Per NOAA, once you’re inside the building, go to the basement. If the building lacks this feature, go to a hallway or windowless room in the center of the establishment.

An additional strategy is to drive at a right angle to the tornado’s travel path. For example, if it’s heading west, drive north.

Strategies for worst-case scenarios

In some cases, you might be stuck in heavy traffic. Or maybe there’s no safe place to go nearby, like if you’re driving through a rural area with open fields. In this scenario, the NOAA recommends find a low spot in the ground as far from your vehicle as possible and lie down in it.

If you encounter a tornado and have no time to get out of the way, you might be forced to stay in your car. The National Weather Service advises covering your head with a blanket and keeping your seatbelt on.

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News Source: The Weather Channel