The Truth About Tornadoes: Debunking the Top Ten Tornado Myths

Depending on where you live, tornadoes can pose a significant risk to property and life. Tornadoes occur most frequently in the southern and central US, in an area often referred to as “Tornado Alley.” The top five states with the highest number of tornadoes are Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Illinois.

Like most natural disasters, tornadoes are more likely to occur during specific times of the year. Tornado season, at its most dangerous and frequent, is from early spring through July, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I). Also, most tornadoes occur in the evening hours, between 4 pm and 9 pm.

However, it is possible for tornadoes to strike outside of the regular season. In December 2021, a powerful EF-4 tornado touched down in mayfield, kentucky. The extreme tornado traveled 165.7 miles, with top winds reaching 190 mph. More than 500 people were injured and 57 deaths were reported.

As tornado season approaches, it is imperative to prepare for these natural disasters. Tornado preparedness can keep your family safe and prevent loss of life. In this guide, we’ll explain some of the most common misconceptions about tornadoes and debunk these myths so you can stay safe through tornado season and beyond.

Common myths about tornadoes

You can drive faster than a tornado. Tornadoes can move faster than 60 mph. Even if you’re speeding, a tornado can still lift your car when you factor in wind speeds of 200 mph.
The best place to take shelter is the southwest corner of your basement. Tornadoes can move in all directions and are unforgiving of southwestern locations. experts Suggest finding a walled-in, windowless room on the lowest level of your residence.
Opening the windows will depressurize your house. Do not; he won’t National Metereological Service advises people to move to the lowest floor or lowest interior room and focus on protecting themselves from possible flying debris.
Taking shelter under an overpass is the safest place to be while driving during a tornado. This actually increases your risk. Bridges and overpasses may not be stable and could cause traffic hazards for others on the road. Counterintuitively, parking under an overpass offers less protection from flying debris, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

Overpasses and bridges can also create a wind tunnel, according to aware of the storm. This deals more damage and puts you at greater risk from flying debris.

Tornadoes cannot pass through bodies of water, mountains, or large cities. They can and they will. experts posit that tornadoes are less likely to form in urban areas, but that tall buildings do not affect a tornado’s path or power.

As for bodies of water, the 1974 tornado ‘Super Outbreak’ hit Cincinnati (located near the Ohio River). Some of these tornadoes were rated EF-5, which is considered the most destructive tornado by the National Metereological Service. Wind speeds range from 260 to 318 mph.

The tornado itself is the most dangerous element of the storm. The Storm Prediction Center says otherwise. Wind speed and storms cause debris to fly, which is what makes tornadoes so deadly and destructive. Being hit by a heavy flying object is the most dangerous result of a tornado, not the tornado itself.
Tornadoes only occur during tornado season. The tornado that hit Kentucky last December proves this myth to be false. While tornadoes typically form in the spring, outliers can be just as deadly.
You can see and hear a tornado before it hits. Don’t wait until you see the funnel or hear the wind before taking shelter. Rain or cloud cover can obscure your view of the tornado and give you less time to react. Stay tuned for weather updates from NOAA and learn the difference between tornado watches and tornado warnings.
Tornadoes never hit the same place twice. Au contraire. Tornadoes do what they want, where they want. The N.W.S. found several instances of this, one in Arkansas, where three separate tornadoes hit the same church on the same day.

Cordell, Kansas was also hit by a tornado on May 20 for three years in a row (1916, 1917, and 1918).

If a tornado isn’t coming directly at you, you’re safe. tornadoes can change address At any time. Tornado paths can be unpredictable, so it is best to be cautious and seek reliable shelter even if you are not in the direct path of the tornado.
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How to prepare for tornadoes

Despite the danger, there are some things you can do to prepare for a tornado. If you own a home in a high-risk tornado area, there are a number of preventative steps you can take to protect your property from tornadoes and, more importantly, keep your loved ones safe when a tornado approaches. .

Here are some tips to prepare for tornadoes as we head into tornado season:

inspect your home

Before tornado season, it’s a good idea to inspect your home and look for areas that may be susceptible to tornado damage. Areas to focus on include the roof, gutters, windows, and doors. Use the months leading up to tornado season to make improvements and repairs, if needed.

For example, if you notice that your roof is showing signs of wear, consider replacing the shingles in the affected areas to prevent leaks. You need to clean your gutters and check that they are secured to the side of your house. It is also important to prune trees before tornado season. Focus on low, heavy branches that could break and fall on the roof or other structures on your property.

keep your yard clean

Tornado season coincides with spring and summer, when you’re most likely to spend time outdoors. If you have outdoor furniture, planters, or a grill outside, consider securing those items, or better yet, bring them inside when you’re done using them.

Tornadoes can strike unexpectedly, which means you may not have time for a last-minute yard cleanup. Loose items in your yard can easily be blown away by strong winds and potentially cause damage to your home or neighboring homes.

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Store your emergency kit

If you live in an area where tornadoes or other natural disasters occur frequently, you should have an easily accessible emergency preparedness kit that is stocked with the essentials. Your kit should include things like:

  • battery operated radio
  • extra batteries
  • Flashlight
  • Non-perishable food (for several days)
  • Bottled water (for several days)
  • emergency blankets
  • First aid box
  • Medicine
  • Important documents

Ideally, you should keep your emergency kit in your safe area of ​​refuge. Otherwise, make sure it’s easy to grab so you can carry it to your shelter area if a tornado strikes.

Have a security plan

The foundation of tornado preparedness lies in your safety plan. Your tornado safety plan should include instructions on where you and your family will seek shelter if a tornado is expected to pass through your area. Common sheltering areas include basements, ground floor bathrooms, or any lower level area that does not have windows, such as a hallway.

Once you’ve designated your shelter location, make sure everyone in your household knows the plan so you can act quickly. You should also become familiar with how to turn off utilities, such as gas, electricity, and water, which can help prevent further damage in a tornado.

Make sure your home insurance policy covers tornado damage

Most standard homeowners insurance policies list tornado damage as a covered peril. You don’t need to add tornado insurance as a separate policy like you do with flood insurance and earthquake insurance.

However, it’s a good idea to talk to an agent and verify that your policy covers tornado damage and, if so, how much coverage you have. Here are some of the factors that can affect your tornado coverage level:

  • the value of your house
  • The amount of personal property coverage you have
  • How likely it is that there will be tornadoes in your area
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If you think you need more coverage than you already have, you can talk to an agent about increasing your policy limits for additional home or personal property protection. Keep in mind, however, that your insurance company may limit the amount of coverage you can get for tornadoes, based on the likelihood of tornadoes in your area.

Pay close attention to local weather updates

When a tornado is expected to approach your area, staying abreast of local weather forecasts is imperative. There are several places to get weather updates, including your local news station, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the FEMA Emergency Alert System. If your smartphone allows emergency weather alerts, make sure you and your family members opt in to receive real-time updates.

Most importantly, if a tornado is expected to approach or pass through your area, keep an eye out for warnings throughout the day. Like all types of natural and weather disasters, tornadoes can strike quickly and at any time, even when they are not expected. It is important to make sure you and your family have enough time to get to a safe area when a tornado approaches.