Missouri is no stranger to tornadoes. With April, May, and June being the most active months for tornadoes here in Missouri— it’s that time of year again.
Because tornadoes can quickly develop, any advance warning is helpful, especially if you’re driving in your car and want to try and get to a safe shelter.
Advanced warnings from a tornado siren can be helpful, but another way to get an advanced warning is to use a weather alert app. Severe weather alert apps will alert you in the event of a tornado watch or a tornado warning.
A tornado watch will be in effect if there is the potential for a tornado whereas a tornado warning means a tornado has developed and it could potentially move towards your area.
Beyond getting a warning from television news outlets, radio, tornado sirens and weather alert apps, there are tornado warning signs you can be aware of.
Tornado Warning Signs To Look Out For
Tornadoes can develop quickly and take you by surprise, but there are some warning signs you can be aware of to help you spot the potential danger of a tornado.
- Funnel Clouds
Funnel Clouds are rotating columns of wind that form out of the base of a cloud. They look like a funnel or tube extending down beneath a cloud. If a funnel cloud reaches the ground, it then becomes a tornado.
Seeing funnel clouds is a warning sign that a tornado could develop and if you see a funnel cloud close by, you should seek shelter immediately. If you see debris in a funnel cloud, it has already touched down on the ground and has already become a tornado.
- Dark, Blackish-Greenish Sky
Storms and dark skies usually go hand in hand. A dark sky developing a greenish hue means a storm has become severe and is a clear warning sign of a potential tornado.
If the sky turns blackish-greenish, it’s a good idea to round up your people and seek shelter.
- The Calm Before The Storm
We’ve all heard the expression “The calm before the storm” used as a metaphor for life because at one point in time we most likely experienced the real weather phenomenon.
The calm before the storm refers to the air becoming almost eerily still and silent before a storm. In terms of a tornado, you may see the wind die down and become still right before a tornado. It’s also not unusual to see a bright sunny sky right before a tornado as well.
- Whirling Dust and Debris
Another warning sign is seeing a whirling cloud of dust and debris. You may even see a random piece of debris falling from the sky. The strong winds of a storm can pick up debris and drop it many miles away.
If you see whirling dust clouds with debris or random objects falling from the sky, it’s a good idea to take cover right away.
- Large Hail
By large hail, we mean especially extra large hail—like golf ball sized hail. If large hail begins to fall, it cert’s another clear warning that suggests the possibility of a tornado.
- The Roar of a Tornado
There is a definite sound of a tornado that people often describe as a loud and constant roar that sounds like a freight train moving closer. You may also hear the whir and whooshing of the strong winds.
What If You Are Driving During a Tornado?
So, what do you do if you get caught driving your car during a tornado?
It is extremely dangerous to try and outrun a tornado, but if you see a tornado far enough in the distance you can alter your course and drive at right angles to the storm and seek appropriate shelter.
If you seek shelter in your home, you should move to the basement or an interior hallway or closet on the lowest level of your home.
If you’re not near home, look for a sturdy building nearby and go to the
center of the lowest level in the building. No matter what type of building you are in, you always want to stay away from outer walls, windows and glass doors.
If the tornado is close and you don’t have time to seek shelter, or you are stuck in traffic and there’s nowhere to go, you’ll have to brace yourself in your vehicle.
Duck below the window line and cover your head with a jacket, blanket, towel, or any other items you can find in your car that might work to help protect you from flying glass and dirt.
If you can’t find anything you can use your hands to cover your head to help protect it from flying debris. Keep your seat belt on and if you keep your car running your airbags may deploy so be prepared for that impact.
The American Red Cross says that your vehicle is safer than a mobile home, so do not seek shelter in a mobile home even if it is the only structure nearby.
If you decide to leave your vehicle to seek shelter in a low lying ditch or ravine, be sure to move as far away from your car as possible to avoid being hit by it.
And finally, It’s important to never seek shelter under a bridge or highway overpass. An overpass can create an even greater risk to your life during a tornado.
If you are in the Kansas City area and your vehicle has been damaged by a tornado and you need help retrieving it, Roadside Services Towing of Kansas City is here to help.
We are open 24 hours a day and can get one of our
experienced operators out to help you.