OVERPASSES AND TORNADO SAFETY
Not a Good Mix.....
Wind speeds in tornados can be over 200 mph. These destructive winds produce airborne debris that are blown into and channeled under the overpass where people might try to seek shelter. Debris of varying size and types, including dirt, sand and rocks, moving at incredible speeds can easily penetrate clothing and skin causing serious injuries and possibly death. Very fine debris can also be forced into eyes causing injury or loss of sight. A person could even be blown out or carried away from the overpass by the fierce tornado winds. People positioned at the top of the overpass encounter even high wind speeds and more missile-like debris. Wind direction will also shift abruptly as the tornado passes tossing debris from all sides.
In the 1991 Kansas Turnpike video, the tornado was relatively weak when it passed near the overpass. A stronger tornado striking the overpass directly would likely have caused serious injury to those attempting to find shelter there.
The safest course of action when a tornado approaches is to get out of the tornado’s path, or to seek shelter in a sturdy, well-constructed building. Lying flat in a ditch, ravine, or below grade culvert also offers protection from flying tornadic debris. Do not try to outrun a tornado in a car. Be aware of your surroundings, check weather forecasts often in changing conditions and take personal responsibility for your own safety. Remember: Overpasses offer no protection from a direct hit from a tornado, and should not be used as shelter.
Tornado Safety-Related Internet Links:
Service Tornado Safety Brochure:
MARCH 13-17, 2006