Storm Week 2010: Tornado Myths - True or False

Published: Apr. 5, 2010 at 6:51 PM CDT|Updated: Feb. 18, 2011 at 4:03 PM CST
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There are a lot of myths floating around out there about tornadoes, lets bust some of these myths right now!

Myth 1: Underneath a highway overpass is a good place to seek shelter if you are caught on the road during a tornado?

False! The design of an overpass can cause the high winds to accelerate, plus you could be hit by flying debris that is thrown underneath the overpass.  It was reported that several people died in Wichita Falls on terrible Tuesday in 1979, as well as 20 years later in Oklahoma City after seeking shelter under overpasses.
Myth 2: You should open all windows in your house to equalize pressure or a tornado will cause your house to explode?

False.  Tornado damage is caused by the strong swirling winds and the debris it picks up.  Opening your windows wont help anything.

Myth 3: The southwest corner of your home is the safest place to be during a tornado.

False again.  Most tornadoes move from southwest to the northeast, making the southwest corner the most dangerous. Remember the #1 tornado safety rule, put as many walls between you and the tornado as you can.

Myth 4: You may not always be able to see a twister coming.

True.  Tornadoes can be hidden by trees or hills. They can also hide in areas of heavy rain.

Myth 5: Tornadoes never strike the same place twice.

False.  While there's no scientific explanation, there are areas or paths that see a higher frequency tornadoes. Moore, Oklahoma near Oklahoma City, seems to be one of these areas, being hit by two very strong tornadoes over the past decade.
Myth 6: Tornadoes never strike the downtown areas of big cities.

False. The tornado that struck Forth Worth in 2000 went right through the heart of the downtown area, causing major damage to some of the tallest buildings.

Myth 7: Tornadoes never cross water.

Again, false.  Tornadoes can and do cross water. A tornado that moves or forms over water is called a waterspout.  These are very common off the coast of Florida.

Myth 8: Tornadoes sound like a freight train.

True.  Strong winds in a tornado can make it sound just like a jet engine or freight train.  If you hear this sound with a thunderstorm oncoming, take cover immediately.