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Flora 05-10-2014 11:55 AM

Tornado Warnings...What to do?
We are going to be traveling to Colorado along I 70 starting next Friday, and with all the tornadoes and warnings we've been hearing about lately, we are not sure what to do if we should get caught on the road. Where is a safe place to park? Do we stay with the coach or get out? Park under a bridge if we can find one? Of course, we would stay put if parked until the danger passes, but what if we're moving? We appreciate any help we can get.

Dr Jay 05-10-2014 12:29 PM

Hi, parking under a bridge is not recommended by the National Weather service. Should follow weather reports closely and do not travel into a tornado zone (get a weather radio if you do not have one, Midland makes a good one). If you are in the way of a tornado the best bet is run and find a stable building or a shelter. A coach or trailer is no place to wait out a tornado. That is the best advice I can give.

Don1951 05-10-2014 12:42 PM

I have an emergency broadcast station on my radio. We turn to it when we suspect any type of severe weather event.

You can pick up a portable one almost anywhere they sell electronics or get a good deal on Amazon.

Most important, for me is where the weather event is coming from. If it's localized, I'll try to skirt it. If it's big, I turn in the opposite direction at an angle away from the most severe weather.

If any of this is not possible then:
1. If you are on the interstate park under or over any overpass. Climb up the sides of the underpass and tuck yourself into the girders. If you do park on an overpass be prepared to lose the RV but save yourself.

If you're in a town or city, quickly ask where the nearest shelters are. Most hotels and libraries have basements. Fast food places and restaurants have freezers. Even a bank may offer you shelter.

Hope this helps.

Stay safe.


Okiedoke 05-10-2014 12:43 PM

When traveling in an area with a tornado warning the local weather radio broadcast should be followed. Internet access along I-70 would be helpful to observe weather radar and see the direction and location of the worst parts of a storm.

As an Okie, I pretty much ignore "Tornado Watches" and a bit jaded when it comes to tornado warnings, but storms that produce tornados are also capable of strong straight winds and that alone would cause me to hunker down and watch the news (and stare at the sky - can't help it). You don't want to be stuck in traffic with a tornado approaching, nor do you want to be in an RV under a bridge, or anywhere else, to ride out a tornado. If a tornado is imminent you need to seek shelter, preferably underground, otherwise in a small room of a strong building, or even a ditch.

The state park where we are currently staying was hit by an F4 tornado a few years ago, destroying campgrounds and a marina. Concrete block restrooms were the only structures still standing in some areas. An early warning prevented any injuries.

DSL417 05-10-2014 01:14 PM

I want to highlight and debunk a couple of things here (and since I am a meteorologist specializing in severe weather and a storm chaser, Univ of OK, in a previous life, so I speak with some knowledge).

1) generally underpasses are no place to be if you get in a tornadic situation. While it may protect your coach from hail to be there, wind funnels through the underpass increasing the speed. It will toss the coach. As far as moving up underneath the girders for protection, yes, in some cases, if there truly is room to protect yourself, but generally, it is NOT a good place to go.
2) generally in this part of the world you're talking, you can see the types of thunderstorms and cloud formations coming that are going to be tornadic. Wall clouds are easy to see they look like bulldozers in the sky and represent strong winds many times. If the wall cloud is rotating, get the heck out of your coach and find a low place (ditch, culvert, as low as you can're already in trouble as a tornado can drop out of it at any point).
3) weather radio...yes...and get a map set that has counties clearly ID'd on it. Contrary to one post above watches should be paid attention tells you when to be more observant of conditions.
4) tornadoes occur and if caught in one, grab your a-- and get not stay in the coach. But note, you'll see more high profile vehicles blown over driving in high wind conditions. If the rain is horizontal, pull over in a safe place. If the lightning is continuous, do same...these are severe indicators. Be aware, in CO if you see high base thunderstorms with wispy rain underneath, but dust at the surface, you're probably looking at winds 50-70 mph...dangerous.
5) Drive in the mornings in severe weather prone areas. While severe weather can occur at all times, 11AM is a diurnal low whereas 4-7PM is a peak.

There is another thread going that talks similar. PM me if you have questions. I have several good web sites you can use to ID good weather radar and watches/warning areas.

Randy125 05-10-2014 08:30 PM

I live in Joplin Missouri and grew up in southeast Kansas and what DSL417 posted is info you need when in this part of the country. Pay attention to the forecast and you will travel safely.

wa8yxm 05-11-2014 05:17 AM

Fist: If you can take a weather spotter course.. DO SO. You learn a lot.

As others have said, Carry a radio (Weather-all hazard alert with SAME technology set in TRAVEL mode) I do, plus all my ham gear (Save one) can tune the weather band.

If a storm threatens get to a place with shelter if you can.. If not, Well.. Avoid low points as flash flooding is a witch, and avoid being the tallest thing about as lightening likes tall stuff. Beyond that inside the vehicle is where I'd rather be. Hopefully NOT on an open plane where wind can pick up major speed.

But the answer to the question: Where is the best place to take shelter during a Hurricane? (Also applies to tornados, Earthquakers, Fires, Floods and all other natural disasters or man made disasters) is:

A shelter outside the storm (Event) area.

Stuff in prens is stuff I added.

Or as I've always said: Best place to be when "Stuff" happens: ELSEWHERE!.

Your alert radio can help you find Elsewhere.

Question: WHich is more vilent: Hurricane or Tornado.

Answer.. Wind speeds in the worst hurricanes are close to those of the weakest tornados .. Tornados are much more voilent, But not nearly as large.

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