Myth vs fact: what can you believe about tornadoes?

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FARMERSBURG, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – With peak tornado season continuing to take place across the country, Meteorologist Savanna Brito has information on what you can believe about tornadoes, and she also breaks down some myths.

The first topic we are going to talk about is that tornadoes cannot hit big cities. This is false. Several large cities have been hit by tornadoes including Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, and St. Louis. Also, more recently, an EF3 hit Nashville in March of 2020. 

The peak months in which tornadoes occur are April through June. True. Violent tornadoes are most common in April. The greatest monthly total tornadoes are typically during May. And the most tornado days are in June, which we are about to head into.

There are three types of tornado watches/warnings. This is true. Tornado watches mean conditions are favorable for tornado development and you should have a plan in place in case a warning is issued. A tornado warning means that a tornado was either radar indicated or spotted. You need to take action and find your safe place immediately. In rare cases, there are tornado emergencies. A tornado emergency is issued when a violent tornado is on the ground and there’s severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage.

Tornadoes cannot cross lakes, rivers, or other bodies of water. False. Tornadoes can cross water and landforms. Tornadoes that form on water are called waterspouts. 

Tornadoes never strike the same area twice. False. Tornadoes can hit anywhere at any time. Three different tornadoes hit the same church in Guy, Arkansas on the same exact day last year.

If a tornado is not directly in your path, then you are out of harm’s way. False. Tornadoes can shift their path at any time. There is no set direction or route that tornadoes follow. Three storm chasers were killed by a violent, long-track tornado in El Reno, Oklahoma in 2013, when the tornado shifted its path at the last second. 

White tornadoes are weaker than dark colored tornadoes. False. There are a lot of factors that go into what color a tornado has. One of the factors is what kind of surface the tornado is passing over and depends on how the sun is hitting the tornado.

A basement away from all windows, is the safest place to be when tornadoes strike. True! If you do not have a basement, an interior room on the lowest floor of your home/building is also okay if you are far away from exterior walls and windows. Always have emergency supplies in your tornado safe place such as a flashlight, food, water, first aid kit, clothes, and most important, something to protect your head.

Remember, just because you read something online does not mean it’s true. 

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