Strong winds from a tornado are capable of picking up debris and depositing it miles away from where it was lifted. If winds are strong enough, cars can be blown over and picked up by the tornado. It is important to know what to do if you are driving and become caught in severe weather.
Trying to outrun a tornado in your vehicle is the number one thing to remember not to do. AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said that trying to outrun a tornado is a bad idea because tornadoes have the potential to travel over 60 mph and they don't have to follow road patterns. Driving on a 90-degree angle away from the tornado is a good strategy to follow in order to distance yourself from the tornado.
"A compass or GPS may be helpful to determine which way to drive on a 90-degree angle away from the storm," Samuhel said.
If you see a tornado developing where you are driving, the best thing to do is to pull over and evacuate your vehicle. Seek shelter in the nearest sturdy building or storm shelter; do not hide under your car. The wind could potentially roll your car over. If there is no available shelter, find the nearest ditch or low-lying area and crouch low to the ground covering your head with your arms.
Potentially sturdy structures to look for while driving are fast food restaurants and banks. Fast food restaurants will usually have a cooler that could withstand a tornado similar to a safe in a bank, according to Samuhel. Also, seeking shelter in an interior wall is a good idea.
"The more walls between you and the tornado, the better off you are," Samuhel said.
Underpasses may seem like a safe place to hide, but this is a myth, due to the fact that they are above ground. Winds from a tornado can accelerate through the small places of an underpass causing the potential for the underpass to collapse or your vehicle to be blown away.
In the event of severe weather, it is important to know where a tornado could form and what safety precautions you should follow.
"Know where you are and what counties have watches and warnings issued for them, and keep a watchful eye to the sky," Samuhel said.