One of the greatest concerns when severe weather strikes: the possibility for tornadoes. We all know what to do if we’re at home when one touches down – find shelter in the sturdiest part of your home. But what should you do if you’re caught outside when a tornado warning is issued?
The Stateline is preparing itself for another round of incliement weather as strong thunderstorms loom in the distance, some of which have produced funnel clouds Tuesday in southern Wisconsin.
Storm spotter John Lawrence recalls his terrifying experience of being a part of the Belvidere Tornado of 1967. “The sound of that stereotypical freight train sound. The glass breaking. The kids screaming,” he remembers.
Lawrence has been fascinated by weather ever since and works to keep people safe and informed about tornadic weather, something he says has come a long way over the last 50 years.
“Meteorologists have gotten so much better with new technology, joining technology with knowledge,” he said.
Even with tornado preparedness, sometimes people get caught in tornadoes while out on the roads. Their first instinct is to pull over and take shelter under an overpass, something that is actually incredibly dangerous.
Many people think that hiding under an overpass will give you great protection due to concrete, but because the space is much smaller, the pressure is much higher, which means that winds will be stronger and could pull an object, person, or vehicle, out.
If you are stuck on the roads during a tornado, the best thing you can do is pull over and get down into a ditch. That way, the strongest winds stay above you, along with debris. Whatever you do, do not take shelter inside a vehicle, as tornadoes can pick them up and throw them.
Flying cars aren’t the only hazard that come with tornadoes: strong winds can knock down power lines and trees, making it difficult for first responders to arrive.
Advanced forecasting has allowed people to stay better prepared for severe weather.
“Get informed on what’s going on on a daily basis,” suggests Michele Pankow, Division Chief of Operations for the Rockford Fire Department. “There’s tons of apps out there that you can download if there’s severe weather heading your way.”
In addition to Rockford’s City Hall, many public buildings have tornado shelters – including various businesses and hospitals, along with other government buildings, such as the Fire Department.