Photo of a tornado touching down by a road

Steps to Take If You Encounter a Tornado While Driving

Safety Tips

When the weather changes from cold to warm temperatures, it can become volatile. Warmer air seeking to overspread can trigger thunderstorms, which can result in tornadoes. Tornadoes should not be underestimated, as they destroy property and cause death very suddenly. This is why you should take shelter when a tornado is approaching. But, do you know what to do if you encounter one while driving? Here are tips on how you should handle the situation.

Turn Around

If you see a tornado far away in the distance, turn around and drive away from the funnel cloud at 90-degree angles away from its path. If it’s heading east, go south. Leave your car as soon as you spot a sturdy building such as a fast-food restaurant or bank; the two are ideal as they have fortified structures such as a freezer or a vault.

Do Not Try to Outrun a Tornado

It is human nature to get away from danger, and since cars can surpass the speed of a tornado, you may try to outrun a tornado. This is a bad idea. Tornado winds are so strong that they can blow large objects, like your car, hundreds of feet away. Tornadoes can lift a truck or a vehicle into the air as they travel swiftly and quickly change direction.

Pull Over and Seek Shelter

If there is a building around, go inside and go to its lowest level away from windows. If there is no shelter nearby, look around you and find the lowest point and lie down, and cover your head with your hands. Avoid sheltering under trees or anything else that gets lifted by the tornado. Do not seek shelter in a mobile home; it would be safer in your car.

Do Not Shelter in a Tunnel or Under a Bridge

To most people, this may seem like a logical choice, but it could cost your life. Bridges have no walls, and tunnels lack four walls, which means that they cannot protect you from strong winds. On the contrary, tunnels act to increase tornado winds, making it a dangerous place to seek shelter.

Stay in Your Car

Sometimes, it might be too late to leave your car or turn around. If it is evident that you are going to meet a tornado head-on, fasten your seatbelt. If you have a blanket in your car, use it to cover your head and lean below your windows and windshield to avoid being injured by shattering glass.

Stay Away from Overpasses

As a car owner, you may want to protect your car from damage by sheltering under an overpass. But, tornado winds increase in speed under such openings, and the debris can quickly get to you while under an overpass as you are a stationary target. You can even be carried or blown out by tornado winds.

Watch for Debris

After the tornado is over, be cautious by avoiding dangerous debris such as nails, broken glass, and similar sharp objects. Please stay away from fallen power lines as some of them may still be charged. Lastly, do not try to enter a damaged building as it can collapse on you. Encountering a tornado on the road is a scary situation, but taking some informed steps can maximize your chances of making it out unscathed.