Tornado Preparedness

Driving on a beautiful sunny day is a pleasure. But driving for a living exposes you to every type of dangerous weather out there. While we often think of snow and ice as offering the most risk to drivers, every season has its special threat to throw our way. Learn how to recognize a tornado and what to do if you’re in your vehicle.

Recognizing a Tornado

While we have come to lean on forecasting for warnings of dangerous weather, it is important to stay alert for the signs of impending storms. The Storm Prediction Center offers these signs:

  1. Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
  2. Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base — tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
  3. Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
  4. Day or night: Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
  5. Night: Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
  6. Night: Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning — especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.

In a Car or Truck

  • If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado.
  • Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or underground if possible.
  • If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible — out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushion if possible.
  • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
  • Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
  • Categorized in:
  • Driving Techniques
  • Weather Conditions