Living in Oklahoma we are all used to hearing about tornados, but how much of what we know about tornados is true and how much of it is just myth. Getting the facts right about tornados can be the difference between life and death and in this article we will look at the facts about tornadoes as well as myths that you may hear on the news or social media.
MYTH: Tornadoes only hit flat lands and not big cities
This is a terrible myth that you should not believe. Tornadoes are not restricted to flat or open lands. They can travel virtually any direction they want, whether there are skyscrapers or open fields. Remember the path of the May 3, 1999 F5 tornado that tore through downtown Oklahoma City. Many of us think that the only path of tornadoes is open suburbs of Moore, Oklahoma or the tornado alleys, but the sad truth is that it can virtually go anywhere.
FACT: Tornadoes can occur in the middle of the night or winter time
This is very true. Tornadoes can form at any given time of day as long as the conditions of a tornado developing are in place. That’s why it is very important to be prepared and if you can, install a tornado storm shelter in/around your home. You need to have all the emergency items ready because tornadoes can strike anytime of day. Tornadoes occurring in Winter is a very rare occasion but still one that can happen and has happened in the past.
MYTH: I can hide in my car in a ditch to avoid tornadoes
Sadly this is not true. The recent tornadoes that have hit parts of Oklahoma and the midwest have shown just how powerful tornadoes are. We have witnessed on TV huge 18-wheeler trucks being sucked up in the wind and tossed miles away. We have even seen houses being torn into pieces in a matter of seconds. If this can happen to heavy trucks, imagine what will happen to your car? That’s why it’s important to keep a watchful eye and stay connected to news whenever a tornado warning is issued.
The only place where you’d be safe is a storm shelter or safe room. Make sure you know where the closest one is and get there as quickly as possible.
MYTH: I can out-speed a tornado so I don’t have to take shelter
When you look at a tornado touching down through a TV, you only see the dark cloud and a narrow body that’s actually touching the ground. This might give you the idea of trying to outrun a tornado since it doesn’t seem to be occupying a lot of ground. What these videos don’t show is the high speed of wind surrounding the tornado and the high pressure that sucks in anything close to the body of the tornado. If you happen to come close to this field of pressure, you’ll be sucked into the swirl and this can be fatal. The build up of a tornado occupies a wide area causing any objects within this area to come under the control of a tornado. Do yourself a favor and take cover.
FACT: Tornadoes have picked up objects, animals and people, moved them a distance and set them down without damage or injury
This is surprising true, but very rare and should be considered an exception to the rule. In 2011, a boy was sucked up by a tornado from his bed and carried about a quarter a mile away, set down and was able to walk back to his family! Miracles indeed happen in this day and age. One important point that I’d like to highlight here is that you prepare your pets for tornadoes. How do you do that, you may ask. Have a collar around your pet and make sure it has update contact information. This will make easier to find your pet after a storm.