We’re already in tornado season, which lasts from April through June in America’s heartland, the Midwest. These storms, which can generate winds of up to 300 mph and cut a swath of damage a mile wide, are often spawned by so called “super cell” thunderstorms that occur when warm moist air from the south meets cold dry air from the north.
Tornadoes can be enveloped by rain and difficult to see, which presents a clear danger to truckers who may encounter some heavy rain or hail, yet not realize that a tornado is forming or already on the ground. So, to stay safe, it’s imperative that drivers keep updated on the weather that’s expected along their travel route and observe all alerts and warnings.
If a threat is imminent, compatible mobile devices can warn citizens via the Wireless Emergency Alerts system. Once there is an alert, WEA suggests seeking more details from local TV or radio stations, NOAA Weather Radio, news website, etc.
If you are caught in an area where a weather report is unavailable, perhaps because of poor signal, there are some signs to watch out for that may indicate that a tornado could form, such as a dark greenish sky or the presence of hail (especially if it’s not raining).
According to NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration), there is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car or truck, just slightly less-dangerous ones. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, NOAA says, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If you are already caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park as quickly and safely as possible. Stay in the truck with the seat belt on and keep your head down below the windows. If you can, cover your head with a blanket, coat, etc. If you think you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your vehicle and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Also, NOAA suggests NOT seeking shelter under highway overpasses, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
As you can see by the previous paragraph, and by this clip showing how a high profile vehicle fares in heavy wind such as that which tornadoes and severe thunderstorms can produce, it’s very dangerous to get caught in your truck in one of these storms. No freight is worth your life. If there is a credible weather threat, take precautions early and live to truck another day.