A Review of Tornadoes Plus Safety Myths & Facts

Severe Weather Awareness
(ABC9 News) – Severe Weather Week continues on ABC9 and Wednesday’s topic is “Tornadoes.”

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air stretching from the bottom of a thunderstorm cloud to the ground. The strongest tornadoes have rotating winds of more than 250 miles per hour! Tornadoes are measured on the Enhanced Fujita scale which estimates wind speeds based on resultant damage from tornadoes.

Among the most violent examples of severe weather that we’ve seen recently is the outbreak last June. On the afternoon of June 16, 2014, four large and violent EF4 tornadoes formed over eastern Nebraska in a warm and humid atmosphere. The strongest of the tornadoes took direct aim on the community of Pilger, NE killing one person and injuring many others.

Several buildings were damaged or destroyed by the EF4 tornado, including the home of Jim Duncan, who went to his basement just in time to survive the storm. Jim Duncan of Pilger, NE said, “It was scary. I came home from work that night and I look to the southwest and here comes this big black cloud. My sister and nephew were in the house, so I ran in there and we went to the basement quick. The next thing that happened is the windows blew in and the basement and the house blew away.” Jim is currently in the process of rebuilding his home.

When it comes to tornadoes, there are many myths and facts that should be evaluated when it comes to your safety. Some of the biggest ones are listed below…

Myth: Opening your windows in a tornado will equalize the pressure inside and outside of the house.
Fact: This won’t do anything to keep you safe and wastes precious time when you should be taking shelter.

Myth: A tornado won’t hit a large city.
Fact: Tornadoes have hit Dallas, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Miami, and Salt Lake City among several others and their suburbs.

Myth: The river offers protection from a tornado.
Fact: Tornadoes can cross rivers and affect river cities. In 1896, a tornado jumped the Mississippi River at St. Louis.

Myth: A freeway overpass offers protection from a tornado.
Fact: The overpass is a dangerous area to be as it acts like a wind tunnel in accelerating wind speeds. You’re actually better off in a ditch!

Myth: A tornado is more likely to hit a mobile home park.
Fact:It only seems that way since there are so many mobile homes in Tornado Alley and because tornadoes do more damage to mobile homes than other structures.

Remember, ABC9 now has the capability to instantly alert you to severe weather in Siouxland on social media! Check out ABC9 News on Facebook and @kcautv on Twitter to stay up to the minute this severe weather season!

Also, be sure to pick up a NOAA Weather Radio at area Hy-Vee stores, which will let you know about all watches and warnings in your area, even if the power goes out!

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