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Tornado Facts and Common Questions

Tornado Facts and Common Questions

Tornado Facts

Common Questions

If you are in your car and hear about an approaching tornado, would a highway underpass be a safe place to park and wait out the storm?

No, it would probably not be a safe place because of the debris that could be flying through the underpass. If you cannot drive at right angles from the tornado's movement, abandon your vehicle and take cover in a ditch, depression or culvert. If you cannot drive at a right angle to it, never try to outrun it. Although it is sometimes possible to escape, many people have been killed in cars while trying to outrun a tornado. FEMA and NOAA recommend that you not try to drive away from a tornado, even if you can travel at a right angle to it, because tornadoes can change directions quickly and their paths are unpredictable. (If you see a tornado and it looks like it is not moving to the left or right, it is probably moving either away from you or towards you).

A word of caution: If you seek cover in a culvert or ditch and it is raining, flash flooding may be more dangerous than the tornado in some areas; but lying flat in a ditch or low-lying area may be the only thing available.

If a tornado is approaching, should a window or two be opened to equalize pressure?

Opening a window to equalize pressure is usually ineffective in reducing damage. It also lets damaging winds enter the structure.

Do building really "explode" from the low pressure generated from a tornado passing overhead?

Not really. Most structural damage is caused by violent winds and debris slamming into the building.

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