Tornado Myths in Weather for Kids
Common myths about tornadoesTornado myths have always been around in the weather community. Find out the truth about these urban legends and myths about tornadoes.
So what are some common myths and misconceptions about tornadoes? With their destructive power, and the damage they cause, many urban legends have arisen out of this. Let's start with a VERY common myth about tornado safety.
Myth #1 - Overpasses provide safety
There have been many people who when caught in the path of a tornado, have gone to hide under a nearby underpass. They end up surviving, they tell their story, and of course, this becomes a misconception that hiding under an overpass is safe. This is WRONG.
Hiding under an overpass is one of the worst things you can do. For one, being above ground during a tornado is the worst place to be. You want to go lower. Putting yourself under an overpass really exposes yourself to the swirling and fast winds of the tornado. The video below really made this myth become misconstrued as truth:
So DO NOT hide under an overpass if a tornado is coming your way.
Myth #2 - The northeast part of a building is the safest place of a structure
This myth was thought to be true for many years until the middle of the 20th century. As tornado research increased, and damaged was accessed, it was found that not only was this false, but it was actually the worst place to be during a tornado. The safest place would be the lowest level of a building.
Myth #3 - Tornadoes never hit big cities
This has been one of the popular tornado myths for awhile, and evidence has clearly refuted this. People would often think that cities somehow deterred tornadoes, or that they couldn't form in big cities. In reality, if you look at how many big cities there are compared to small towns and cities, you can see why most tornadoes hit in open areas and small towns compared to big cities.
Also considering that tornadoes are usually a couple of hundred feet wide up to a mile or so wide, the path of destruction if very narrow compared to hurricanes. I am a witness that tornadoes can hit big cities as I was literally just a mile from one that struck in my hometown of Detroit. It was an F2 tornado and went right through the middle of the west side of the city and caused plenty of damage.
Myth #4 - The bigger the tornado, the more damage
This is a logical conclusion to come up with, but it is not always true. In fact some tornadoes that are very narrow can cause EF4 or EF5 damage (More info on the Tornado Scale). Likewise, not all big tornadoes cause EF4 or EF5 damage. However is there is a mile wide tornado in the vicinity, it's pretty safe to safe it's pretty dangerous.
Myth #5 - Tornadoes "chase people" or "aim" for houses
This may not have been one of the more popular or well known tornado myths, but I've heard it before. Sorry, but tornadoes do not have a mind of their own, and they are not "attempting" to hit certain structures or even people. Their paths of destruction are pretty random and many times a house will be perfectly in tact only a few hundred feet from another house that was completely destroyed.
Myth #6 - Tornadoes only travel in one direction
Before, many people thought tornadoes only traveled in a NE direction, but over the years, tornadoes have been documented traveling, east, west, and southwest. They can also change direction without warning which is why you shouldn't storm chase unless you really know what you're doing.
Myth #7 - The Southwest part of the basement is the safest
This was a common misconception until studies were done and proved that the safest place was actually the Northeast corner of the basement.
Find out the best ways to survive a tornado.
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