Verifying Myths About Tornadoes

Verifying Myths About Tornadoes

The images are ingrained in our minds. As we've seen this spring, tornadoes can touch down anywhere, at any time.

There are plenty of myths surrounding the destructive and often deadly twisters. To verify what's true and what's not, we took our questions to Chief Meteorologist Tim Buckley.

One statement we've heard: tornadoes can't or don't hit cities.

"There's no truth to this,” said Tim Buckley. “Tornadoes have hit cities in the past. Oklahoma City has gotten struck, Atlanta has gotten struck, Tuscaloosa, Alabama got partially destroyed by a tornado."

But we hear about tornadoes hitting rural areas much more often. Why?

"If you look at a map, most of the United States and most of the world is rural and country, it's not urban," said Buckley.

Urban areas make up just a fraction of the land on Earth. It's mostly covered by forests, farmland and deserts, not people.

Odds are, a tornado will touch down there, confirming this as a myth.

Next, where to go during a tornado if you're caught on the road.

You might think you'd be safe under that overpass. Tim said overpasses are actually more dangerous during a tornado. "If you were to go underneath an overpass, what happens is when you have high winds going toward it, that high wind is going to get funneled into a smaller space. That bridge takes up some space so that wind has to funnel itself underneath it. It actually gets stronger and that can throw the debris right at you at a higher speed."

Avoid an overpass but get as low to the ground as possible, preferably in a ditch. We can verify taking shelter under an overpass is a bad idea.

Finally, have you heard you should open the windows of your house if a tornado is approaching?

"I think this comes from the sense that people want to equalize the pressure,” said Buckley. “It's just not effective."

Yes, the pressure is lower when a tornado approaches, but Tim said opening up the windows isn't going to prevent damage to your house.

"Let me tell you, if a tornado's coming right for your house, your windows are going to break,” said Buckley. “That's not going to help it just by opening up, they're going to get hit by debris anyway."

And all that time you spent opening the windows could've been spent much more effectively. "Just those couple of moments or couple of seconds you're taking trying to open up all the windows in your house, you could much better just use that time to get to a safe spot," said Buckley.

A life-saving piece of advice that's helping up verify this statement is false.

Copyright 2017 WFMY


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