It's a nightmare scenario: You're driving down the road, and suddenly, a tornado is visible. The incredible video above shows a tornado passing over a highway in Grapevine, Texas. So what should you do to stay safe? And what should you NOT do if you end up in this position?
Staying up-to-date on the forecast is the best way to prevent this scenario from happening in the first place. Check the WeatherRadar before you leave, and have your alerts turned on! Not sure if your alerts are on? Click here for instructions.
What to do
The first thing you should do if you see a tornado in the distance is to get off the road and seek sturdy shelter. Truck stops, convenience stores, restaurants, and other sturdy structures are recommended. Once inside, head to the lowest level and stay away from windows.
Tornadoes can move quickly, and their path may change in an instant. However, if you see a tornado in the distance that is clearly moving in a different direction than you are, you can drive away from it at a right angle. For example, if the tornado is moving east, you will want to drive south.
If there are no nearby shelters and you are unable to turn around safely but still see a tornado in the distance, you can also stay put as long as you are sure it is not moving in your direction. Use trees and other markers to judge which direction the tornado is moving. If a tornado appears stationary or is not moving left or right, there's a chance it's moving toward you. If this is the case, pull off the road and find a sturdy building to shelter in as quickly as possible.
What not to do
If you see a tornado, seeking shelter inside a sturdy building is always your best option. However, there are unfortunately some dangerous myths regarding where you should seek safety during a tornado.
One myth is that the area underneath a bridge or overpass is safe during a tornado. It is not. While the area underneath a bridge or overpass may seem safe, you are exposed and at high risk of being hit by debris and high wind. Mobile homes are also not safe during a tornado and are not an appropriate place to seek shelter.
Another thing you should not do if you see a tornado is to try to outrun it. Tornadoes can travel at highway speeds and send debris over the roadway.
If you're stuck, keep your seat belt on
If you don't have enough time to seek shelter or drive away, and a tornado is imminent, keep your seat belt on, park your vehicle away from traffic if possible, and put your head below the windows. If you have a blanket or jacket, you can use it to cover your head.
A car is not a safe place to be during a tornado, but if you end up in the worst-case scenario, keeping your seat belt on could save your life.