Driving cross country in tornado weather

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Cygnet, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Okay, I'm from Arizona. We get occasional tornadoes, but they're weenies compared to the ones in the midwest.

    I'll be driving across the midwest next week. There's a good chance for nasty thunderstorms, according to NOAA.

    What do I do if we're driving and the weather turns really ugly? Suggestions?

    Leva
     
  2. cwgrl23

    cwgrl23 Chief Vegtable Grower :) Supporter

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    There are signs along most interstates that list the local radio stations were you can catch the weather report. Be on the look out for them. If you are in the path of a tornado- you need to find shelter/basement. If you are on the road, find a ditch, the deeper the better. Just remember that there is normally rain with tornado weather - so keep your head above water. If there is an underpass near by, people have been known to hide under them. Rest areas-their bathrooms are normally good places to wait out a tornado as the majority of them are built out of concrete/blocks and have little to know windows. Some rest areas are also satellite offices for the local highway patrol.

    If it is daytime and you notice that the sky is getting kind of a dusty/greenish color, FIND SHELTER!!!!!!!!!!!! That green tint almost always means tornado possibilities - at least here in SD. Another good indicator that the weather is up to no good is if the wind is really blowing 35+mph and all of a sudden it is very still, be checking the weather report & finding shelter. If you notice a sudden drastic change in temperature is also another good indicator. It will start out hot and humid. If it drops 20 degrees in a space of a few minutes/miles - look out! If you can avoid driving at night I would! It is hard to see a tornado forming in the clouds at night!

    Watch the clouds, you can see the clouds spinning into themselves when the conditions are ripe for tornadoes. If you do see clouds rotating like that, then watch for "fingers" starting to appear on the bottom of the cloud. THESE ARE TORNADOES!!! Tornadoes DO NOT have to touch down to cause lots of damage. Just the wind can cause major major damage when tornadoes only get half way to the ground. Here in SD, we also get quite a bit of "straight line winds". According to our weather station, these cause almost as much damage as tornadoes and are much more common up here. More people are hurt/killed by "straight line winds" because it is not a tornado so they are not as careful. We also tend to get golf ball size hail or bigger when we have the possibility of tornadoes.

    Here in SD the wind blows all the time. Normal is around 20-40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph.

    If you see lots of vehicles with mini satellite dishes or tons of antennas on them, find a place to hid. There were over 150 storm chasers in SD this last week for the tornadoes we had in western SD. This number does not include the local meteorologists, local storm chasers, locals who just like to watch storms. Just remember that a tornado is like woman with PMS, calm one minute and yelling at you the next, and then the next minute changing directions and pitching a fit about something completely different. Tornadoes are completely irrational beings. They will be on a westerly course and change and go south for no apparent reason.

    (Before any women get upset about the PMS reference, I am a woman so know from which I speak.)

    With tornadoes it is always better to be safe than sorry!!!!

    Hope this helps.
     

  3. Grandmotherbear

    Grandmotherbear Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The most impressive tornado from my past was a line of clouds that looked like surf breaking. I had no idea it was a tornado- it just looked so cool! Then the funnel cloud came down.
    Ditto the ditch. Get OUT of the car- Tornados have been known to suck SUVS 300 feet into the air! Or up under an underpass. Underpasses can be your salvation during haiol, too.
    Just keep your eyes open as you drive. Spotting good shelter is like buying life insurance, hope you don;t NEED it, but iffen ya do, it is there...
    Watch out for the sudden stillness of all the normal background noises. That's was usually alerts me to tornadic presence out camping at night...
     
  4. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

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    :) Wow! You are a brave person to head across the midwest this time of year!

    I have a question please about this "Underpass" business if I may? We are told by NOAH, the Weather Channel et al underpasses are one of the most dangerous places to be during severe weather like tornados.

    I would think that they would at least protect a person from, as said, hail and I would think from lightning too.

    What do you all think?My DIL is driving from Virginia to the West Coast in a month so info would be appreciated.

    LQ
     
  5. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    I drive back and forth across the country every week for my job. I listen to the weather channel and pay attention to what's going on around me. Aside from that all I can say is if you're too worried about it don't go.
     
  6. mommymushbrain

    mommymushbrain Well-Known Member

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    Underpasses will protect you from hail, but not from tornadoes. Something about the way the winds can blow underneath them is worse than being out in the open field laying flat in a ditch.
     
  7. OD

    OD Well-Known Member

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    Try not to worry so much. Every storm doesn't have a tornado in it, & most of them just dip down & knock a few trees down then go back up never to be seen again.
    I've been living in Tornado Alley for 54 years & have only seen one my whole life. We sat on the front porch & watched it go by a quarter mile away.
    I admit that there have been some really bad ones, but I'd rather take my chances with a tornado than a hurricane any time.
     
  8. cwgrl23

    cwgrl23 Chief Vegtable Grower :) Supporter

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    Tornadoes are certainly a sight to behold when they are not happening to you. I have been in at least 5 storms where the tornado touched down - took out a barn, jumped the house, took another barn and then went to the neighbors. I was also on the road in the path of an F4 tornado that took the town of Spencer, SD right off the map. There was only like 5% of the town still standing. I was in the ditch in the mud. Depending on the size of the hail, I would opt for the ditch and deal with a few bruises verses dealing with the wind under an underpass.
     
  9. frogmammy

    frogmammy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Several years ago, I was driving from St Louis to southern WI during "tornado season". On the hwy, severe storms broke out all around...the devil of it was, the radio would announce "Tornado on the ground at (some town) moving SSW" and I didn't know WHERE that town was in relation to where *I* was! EEK!! So there I was, driving with my neck pulled down between my shoulders (think TURTLE) frantically trying to look out ALL the car windows at once!

    So, hints...1. carry a GOOD map of the state you're in, and know where you are, and 2. If you see a large group of people standing under an underpass...JOIN THEM!

    I believe the main problems with an underpass are you could be sucked out and/or injured by flying debris...'course could be sucked out of a ditch, too.

    Mon
     
  10. BaronsMom

    BaronsMom Well-Known Member

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    Traveled through the storms in Missouri last week - biggest problem for me was the same as for other posters - WHAT COUNTY WAS I IN? Ended up calling my husband to have him look it up which confirmed (along with the rotten weather) I was in a tornado warning with softball-sized hail moving in to the town I was approaching.

    If you are in unfamiliar territory, be sure you get a good road map clearly identifying the county(ies) you are traveling through. Then, find a local radio station. Fortunately, I was able to find a local radio station.

    Some interstates post signs with special frequencies you can tune in on your radio. Rest areas may also have radar available - I believe some of the rest areas through Nebraska have this on I-80.

    Aim for a town, truck stop for shelter...

    We live in tornado alley. Rule of thumb is - If out in the open, ditch is your number one choice if no other choice. We've been told underpasses are not a good idea because flying debris can be dangerous and you are too exposed.

    Hopefully, you'll have an uneventful trip - and if eventful, from a distance so you can still enjoy Nature's beauty - SAFELY
     
  11. healing herbals

    healing herbals Pam in OK

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    As an OK Storm Spotter (not chaser, we are trained by the NWS), you DO NOT use the underpasses during a tornado. If it is just hail, fine. But if there is a funnel spotted, you are safer in the ditch. The magnitude of the wind pull under the pass is unbelievable. We lost 2 or 3 in OK in the big storm of 2000, that way. In fact, it has been replayed on some storm shows
     
  12. Quint

    Quint Well-Known Member

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    Don't hide under overpasses. It has been found that underpasses tend to actually increase the velocity of the wind. Definitely NOT a good place to take shelter. If you get caught on the road and there is no way to outrun the tornado then the best bet is to get down into a ditch. You need to get out of the car. As others have said that car will become an airborne deathtrap in even a small tornado.

    I wouldn't get too worked up over running into one on your trip. Keep an eye out on the weather and pick up a weather radio. I've logged umpteen thousands of miles TRYING to find tornadoes and it isn't exactly an easy task. I've found that it is pretty easy to stay out of the way of a tornado even when you are actually trying to get closer to it.

    If you see a bad storm ahead just pull off and get something to eat or something and wait for it to pass. Driving through bad thunderstorms isn't that smart anyway since the rain can be blinding and golfball+ sized hail will totally trash your car should you encounter it.