Severe storm vehicle safety
As we enter the spring and summer seasons we start to see better opportunities for severe weather here in Michiana. During the spring we start to pull more moisture up from the Gulf of Mexico, temperatures get warmer, and low pressure systems swing in from the west providing us with the final ingredient to spark severe storms.
When talking about severe storms you always here us say, taking shelter in a basement, or an approved storm shelter is the safest." This is true, but what if you get caught in a storm while in your vehicle?
Whenever you hear us talk about chances for severe to significant severe weather here in Michiana you should stay off of the roadways. Treat it like a snow or ice storm, because the last place that you want to encounter strong winds, hail, or even a tornado is in your vehicle. Why is that? Well, if strong winds pick up tree branches or other debris, your car window will not do much to stop it, and if your car encounters a strong enough tornado, your car can be lifted hundreds of feet into the air.
If you are driving and you encounter heavy downpours and hail DO NOT stop under overpasses. Every year there are fatal wrecks because people seek refuge from the heavy rain under overpasses on the interstate. What you should do instead is reduce your speed, take the nearest exit, and find a safe place to park. Then check you local weather app to make sure your not in the path of more significant severe weather.
If you are driving and you see a tornado at a distance, travel at right angles in comparison to its path. So if the tornado is traveling east, you want to travel south until you are at a good distance from the storm itself.
If you are stuck in traffic in the path of a tornado, you should look for the nearest road ditch. This ditch needs to sit lower than the road itself! Lay down and cover your head!
If you are driving and you get caught in strong winds with flying debris, pull over quickly and in a safe location. Keep your seatbelt buckled and crouch below the window height in your vehicle. If you have any coats or blankets grab those for some extra cushion for your head. Remember, windows are an easy entry point for any flying debris.