This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in the state of Texas, and with spring approaching, it's the perfect time to start preparing for those big thunderstorms and potential tornadoes. There are many myths related to tornadoes, so it's important to distinguish between fact and fiction when dealing with severe weather.
Many of us have heard the myth that the southwest part of a building is the safest in a tornado. This is simply not true. This myth was believed throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s due to an idea that all tornadoes moved northeast, which would carry the debris away from the southwest portion of the structure. Today we know that tornadoes do not always move in the same direction. The best place to take shelter during a storm is in an interior room on the lowest floor of a building. Seek shelter in a basement, under a staircase, or in the tub of an interior bathroom.
But what if you're caught in your car during a tornado? The common belief that an overpass is a good place to seek shelter is nothing more than a myth. A video from 1991, which showed a television news crew waiting under an overpass in Kansas during a tornado, led many to believe that an overpass is a safe place to stop. However, an overpass is one of the worst places to take shelter. If you're caught in your car during a tornado, don't try to outrun it. Instead, look for a well-built building. If you're unable to find one, exit your vehicle and lie face down in a low area, covering your head and neck with your hands.
Perhaps you've heard about friends who open all their windows in their home to equalize the pressure when a tornado is approaching. This concept is also a myth. While tornadoes do cause a slight pressure decrease, this is not sufficient to cause the walls of a structure to “blow out." Instead of running around your home trying to open all the windows, use that time to seek shelter instead.
For more severe weather myths and tips, click here.