We have all heard the myths, folklore, and old wives tales regarding tornadoes, here are some that F5 Shelters would like to set straight, for your safety. There is one specific belief that has been perpetuated by everyone, including the media, and reached dangerous proportions before anyone would believe differently, and that is, hiding under an underpass will protect you from a tornado. This belief gained traction when a man jumped out of his car and hid under an underpass in 1979. He happened to escape with barely more than a scratch and ever since it was believed to be fact. In 1991 a media crew fueled the fire by hiding under one, and recording the events, when they got trapped by a tornado. The film footage spread all across the nation like wildfire. The notion was so popular that when the 1999 tornadoes hit Oklahoma a lady actually left her home to seek shelter under an underpass, the result, 3 underpasses hit by the tornadoes, all three destroyed, and a fatality at each one. Hopefully more people will believe in facts and not myths, in the future.
In theory using your vehicle to escape a tornado is sound, in theory only. While cars may be able to outrun tornadoes, a tornado does not have to deal with traffic, terrain, and they do not have specific courses they have to take. Trying to outrun a tornado can be very dangerous, but it is possible, if you are far enough away to see the path of the tornado clearly and you angle away at 90 degrees then you should be fine. The problem is if you get caught then even F3 tornadoes can destroy your car and you in it. An F5 tornado can throw heavy vehicles over 100 yards. If cars were the safest place to be during a tornado F5 Shelters would come with an engine and 4 tires.
If it Does not Touch, it Does not Damage
If the condensation funnel does not reach the ground then the tornado is not causing damage is a very common misconception. Tornadoes can appear to not touch the ground for a number of reasons. The main reason is that wind cannot be seen, condensation does not cause damage, wind does. You should look for debris in the air towards the bottom of the tornado as a visual cue and not the condensation funnel. There could also be rain wrapping around the tornado which would hide the condensation funnel completely. Debris and wind cause the damage associated with tornadoes, regardless of whether or not they touch the ground, and F5 Shelters protect you from both.
In reality the size does not matter at all when it comes to tornadoes. Some of the most powerful F5 tornadoes recorded have been very small at their base. In the past 60 years there have been over 100 violent tornadoes that have had a path less than 300' in width that would be the equivalent of a mid grade F1 in size. Ever heard the saying “dynamite comes in a small package”? The same can be true of tornadoes; massive destruction can come in a very small, tight spiral. Do not make the mistake of thinking that because it is not huge, you do not need to go to your safe room. F5 Shelters is glad to help debunk some of these myths so we can help save more lives in the future.