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Into the Storm: Tornado myths

(Photo by Brad Hruza)
In severe weather, the most important thing to do is to get to safety

In this week's blog I would like to talk a little about tornado myths. A big myth I hear in this area is that people think tornadoes can't hit because the area is in a valley. Also, I hear that people think tornadoes don't hit big cities because of the tall buildings and they don't cross rivers. Others think it is a good idea to open windows in your house if a tornado might hit.

First, I want to talk about opening windows. That is the biggest myth of all. That's actually one of the worst things you can do. Instead of taking time to open a window, you should be taking shelter. Also, a tornado will take a house, and it doesn't matter if the windows are open or not. Another reason not to that is that the last thing you want inside your house is the wind.

There was a tornado years back that hit a street that had about five houses. The only houses totally destroyed were the ones with garage doors open. What happens is the wind gets inside and just starts ripping everything up and starts to lift roofs from underneath, inside the home. The other homes had damage that was minor in comparison. The wind in the destroyed homes lifted off the garage roofs and then opened up the entire homes to the wind, and that was the end of the houses. So the top priority is to get to safety. But don't take the time either to run around shutting everything, either. Before a storm has arrived, that is the time to prepare.

Another myth is that tornadoes will not hit this area because of the valley area. Tornadoes are large, and it doesn't matter how low the ground is. These storm clouds can reach over 60,000 feet tall. We had two tornadoes in Elburn touch down since 2009. It still amazes me that people in Elburn believe that myth after those hit. Living in a valley offers no real extra protection. Take shelter right away when storms are on the way.

Another myth is that tornadoes do not hit large cities. That's a big myth. Salt Lake City downtown, Miami, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham in Alabama, Joplin (Mo.), Oklahoma City and so on and so on. And that's just a few. Tornadoes are so large that it does not matter how tall a building is. In fact, cities can be more dangerous because of the amount of debris that can be thrown around. So again, these storms can reach over 60,000 feet high, and that's well above the height of any building in the world.

Another myth is that tornadoes dont cross rivers. I have seen them cross the Mississippi River. Its the same idea as a valley. They will hit and cross them, no matter where it is.

We have had recent waterspouts over Lake Michigan. All they really are is tornadoes over water. If they happen to move inland, they are than considered tornadoes, although they are weak ones. They would usually dissipate quickly over land, usually within a few miles away from the water. There are many myths out there but these are a few of the bigger ones. As I said, the best thing in the event of a tornado is to just get to safety right away.

For information, visit www.stormchaser1.net

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