Weather Ready Nation Report: Tornado Myths vs. Facts

KLBK Weather

You’ve probably heard the stereotypical tales about tornadoes, and in this week’s Weather Ready Nation Report we decided to find out if these are actually true, or if they’re just a myth.  

1. Tornadoes don’t happen in the mountains.


While we don’t see them as often in theses areas, if the atmospheric ingredients are right, a tornado an form over any structure or terrain. An EF3 tornado has been reported above 10,000 feet.

2. All tornadoes move southwest to northeast.

Most tornadoes do move from southwest to northeast, but a tornado can travel to and from all directions. Just like we saw in Lynn County a couple of week’s ago, tornadoes can be stationary, or move in *any* direction.

3. Open all windows of your home when a tornado warning is issued.


This is actually an extremely dangerous myth because time matters in a tornadic event. Atmospheric pressure will only drop by 10% during a violent tornado. Leave your windows alone and focus on seeking shelter immediately AWAY from windows the moment a tornado warning is issued.

4. Tornado intensity is based on the funnel size?


Tornado intensity is not based on the size of the funnel, but rather the maximum wind speeds. While it’s hard to determine the exact wind speeds of the tornado, there are ways we can get a best estimate of the intensity of the tornado.

5. Tornadoes don’t strike downtown areas.


As we know from the 1970 Lubbock Tornado, they don’t discriminate against downtown areas. Tornado strikes on large cities seem less common only because there are few cities relative to the size of the rural areas in the U.S.

6. A highway overpass is an excellent tornado shelter.


This is actually one of the worst places to seek shelter during a violent tornado. In high wind events, which include tornadoes, overpasses have a wind tunnel effect that causes flying debris to accelerate, which means that you are actually increasing your chances of getting hurt or killed by parking under one.

7. Hurricanes can produce tornadoes.


Hurricanes provide all the necessary ingredients for tornado formation so once a hurricane makes landfall it is considered a rare occurrence to not see tornadoes form.

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