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  • Ren Gudino

Storms and Tornados: How to Stay Safe on the Interstate

Updated: May 2

Storm season is upon us and if you live in the southern states, that means it’s also time for tornados. It feels unfair that the weather is always a bit tumultuous right when summer is about to hit. If you’re planning on having any road trips, here’s some things to keep in mind just in case!

First off, let’s assume that you’ve already looked over your route. You’re aware of previous weather conditions and the possible detours and road damage you might encounter. Now let’s assume that you’ve also checked the weather in advance for your route. If you can’t delay your trip at all or a little rain turns into a severe thunderstorm or tornado, you might be unsure of what to do.

There are several concerns during a severe thunderstorm: flash flooding, low visibility, road conditions, and lightning strikes. If you can, pull over to the side of the road, turn off the car, and wait out the storm with your hazard lights on. If not, then drive slow—speed limits exist for optimal driving conditions and do not apply during storms. Keep your headlights on, doors and windows closed, avoid bridges, and try to pay attention to hazard lights and any warning signs. If you see the road is flooded ahead, stop and turn around. Cars can stall in 6 inches of water and 2 feet of water can carry a truck off the road. In the case of flooding, it’s hard to tell exactly how much water has collected. Plus, you can’t see the condition of the road beneath the water. A delay with a little more driving time is always better than getting stuck in the middle of your route.

In the case of a tornado, the first goal is to seek underground shelter or a sturdy building. This is if you’re in a city or a town—you can replace a car but can’t replace your life. Do not try to outrun a tornado. Though you’re encouraged to stay inside your vehicle during a thunder storm, the opposite is true for a tornado. Instead, try to find a spot lower than the road such as a ditch or ravine, exit your vehicle and lay down on the ground. Try to find a flat area away from other vehicles and trees to avoid being possibly crushed by debris. Laying as flat as possible on the ground while covering your head is the safest option if you find yourself fighting a funnel.

Stay safe as you travel and if the safest option is to delay your trip or even take a pause in the middle of a drive, don’t fret about your itinerary. Take it slow and steady. If you should find yourself in a dangerous situation, follow these tips and best case scenario, you’ll end up with a cool story to tell!

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