Three Tornado Myths Best Ignored by Owners or Commercial Truckers

Most tornado’s strike from March through June and occur in the late afternoon. However, they’ve been known to occur during every month of the year and during any hour of the day, including night. This means the commercial or owner operator truck driver shouldn’t let his guard down in the mornings, evenings, or later in the summer. If a big thunderstorm can hit, so can a tornado because they grow out of thunderstorms.

Facts such as these are useful and can potentially prevent a “close encounter” with a tornado. But there’s a lot of misinformation out there, some of which have been around for decades that can cause harm or worse. Here are three of these myths:

Bridges and Overpasses Provide Shelter from Tornados

Seeking shelter under a bridge or overpass seems like a common sense thing to do. However, these structures act like wind funnels. Wind hitting the side of an overpass gets funneled through the opening underneath where people may seek shelter. Because a lot of air is getting rammed through this area, its speed substantially increases. If you think the wind is extreme out in the open, it’s even worse under a bridge or overpass, where debris will blast through at higher velocities.

Never seek shelter in these places. If a tornado is about to strike, you can either stay in your cab, seat-belted with your head held below windshield level, or you can find a trench outside below ground level. Your prospects are poor with either option if a tornado is right on top of you. Staying in your truck protects you from some flying objects (unlike the trench option where things can land on you), however, you’re attached to a trailer with a huge amount of surface area that’s essentially a giant wind sail. Big tornados easily toss semi trucks high into the air. There’s a good reason trailer parks are often decimated by tornados.

Tornados Don’t Strike Big Cities

Tornados absolutely do hit big cities. Big cities are good if you’re already in a storm shelter. On the other hand, if a tornado is close by, driving into a big city will only get you stuck in a traffic jam created by panic-stricken motorists. Cities also have more debris that can get blown around by the high winds. Here’s another fact: tornados can cross rivers, lakes, and hilly terrain.

You Can Always See a Tornado

The dust and debris drawn into a tornado make them visible. However, heavy rainfall can hide them. A loud train-like rumble or roar is a sure indicator that a tornado is nearby.

The best way to cope with tornados is to continually listen to local weather stations for tornado watches and warnings. When a warning is issued in your area, get off at an exit and find a building where you can seek shelter. Stay on the lowest floor of the building near its center in the smallest room you can find. This might be a small closet or a single room bathroom. If there’s a heavy table, get under it. Stay away from the southwest corner (another myth) or any corners or rooms that aren’t near the building’s center.

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David Ott

David Ott