Weather Wednesday: Tornado Myths

Weather Wednesday

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Weather folklore is common, but not all pieces of folklore are true and could risk one’s safety. Below are six myths regarding tornadoes, and why those ideas are not true.

Myth #1 Tornadoes don’t hit big cities. This is not the case as tornadoes can develop anywhere, as long as the conditions are right for their development. In recent years, tornadoes have hit cities like New York City, Washington D.C., and Dallas.

Myth #2 Open a window before a tornado hits. Many kids in school learned to open a window while sheltering to stabilize the pressure of a tornado and stop the building from exploding. Tornadoes have a powerful force, but it is safer to keep the windows closed. When opening a window that allows flying debris to enter where you are sheltering, and cause objects to hit and hurt you.

Myth #3 It is safe to shelter under a bridge or overpass. There are many videos showing people sheltering under an overpass, and with them being concrete, they look sturdy. The issue is wind flow. Bridges and overpasses turn into wind tunnels and can send items flying at high speeds where you are sheltering. People are also encouraged not to park under a bridge because of blocking the road for help to get to the affected area and for high wind speeds.

Myth #4 Tornadoes are always visible. There are plenty of pictures on the internet of tornadoes, but not all tornadoes are visible. Tornadoes can be wrapped in a wall of rain. If you are waiting to seek shelter when you see the tornado, you are too late. The wall of rain could block the view of the tornado, and you won’t be able to see the tornado until it hits.

Myth #5 Bodies of water block tornadoes. In Michigan, we know this to not be true. Lake Michigan can help or hurt thunderstorms, but tornadoes are still possible in Michigan. Some myths say tornadoes can’t cross rivers and inland lakes, but that is also not true. Tornadoes can cross bodies of water. Waterspouts are a form of a tornado that occurs over water.

Myth #6 Tornadoes only occur in the spring. This final myth is not true because tornadoes can form any time of the year as long as the right ingredients are there for a storm to develop. Though severe storms are not likely in December, unseasonal weather could still allow for strong storms. Letting your guard down against Mother Nature is dangerous. Mid-Michigan’s peak severe weather month is June, but tornadoes have been reported in March and November.

By debunking tornado myths, you and your family can stay safe when the next tornado warning is issued in our area. Check out the video above for more information about these myths.

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