MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tornadoes can be a devastating and deadly event. To complicate things even more, say you encounter a tornado while driving. Quick response might say to take shelter under a highway overpass. Well, in reality, that concrete structure is probably not as safe as you think.
In this Breakdown we are explaining why it is not a good idea to take shelter under a highway overpass. In fact, that location might be the worst place to find shelter in a storm.
Wind speeds of tornadoes can exceed 200 mph and these destructive winds can produce airborne debris that will fly through the air. The varying size of dirt, sands and rocks, and other objects sucked up by the storm can move at incredible speeds that can cause injury to someone caught outside in the storm.
The reason why being under an overpass is so dangerous is due to the wind speeds. When you climb higher under the bridge, the wind speeds will increase exponentially. That means you can possibly be pulled out from under the overpass. The wind tunneling effect can also cause large debris to fly through the small space under the bridge.
Not only could you cause danger to yourself, you could cause harm to others by leaving your car parked under the overpass, and may cause a traffic backup for others.
If you are caught in a storm while driving, the best advice is to either stay in your car with the seat belt on, put your head down below the winds, cover your head with your hands or blanket.
If you find a place lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head, just watch out for water in those low-lying areas.
You could also try and find a basement or storm shelter or use your set belt and drive safely to a storm shelter if you can, do not wait until you see a tornado to do so, do it as soon as you can.
Just remember to stay alert when traveling on the roads by monitoring weather conditions along your highway route.