Mythbusting: Overpasses as Tornado Shelters

MYTH: An overpass is a good place to shelter during a tornado.

According to this boingboing article, the myth started in 1991 when a news crew survived a tornado by hiding beneath an overpass. But this former Kansan begs to differ. I clearly remember my dad using an overpass as a last-minute tornado shelter in the 1980’s. (I wasn’t there, but I remember him telling the story.)

In any case, the myth has been floating around un-busted for far too long. The fact is, an overpass can be one of the worst places to shelter during a tornado.

So, should find yourself in the midst of a twister while roadtripping through tornado country, what SHOULD you do?

If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter:

  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  • If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options as a last resort:
  • Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
  • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
  • Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.

More tips here.