CNN's Gary Tuchman reports on a family in Oklahoma that hid from Friday's tornado in a storm drain but tragically died when the drain flooded.
Having been through two tornadoes myself as a youngster and survived, I can tell you first hand that the ONLY safe place when a tornado comes is UNDERGROUND....period! These storms can wipe a home away clean down to the foundation or slab and anything in a house can be swept away in a second. If you live in a tornado prone area, please consider a underground shelter. It just might save your life and the lives of your loved ones.
I can tell you that being underground is not always safe either. As my family lost our home on May 31st due to the flooding but we was also hit by the tornado just 20 minutes prior to flooding. 17 of us was down in the storm cellar when water began rushing into it. We BARELY escaped with our lives. Even the man from FEMA that came out and saw the water filled in my storm cellar was baffled by the fact that we managed to get everyone out before it was too late. Sometimes, there are no safe areas from the wrath of mother nature
I have seen cars, even railroad cars, land MILES from where they started. Your car that can do 80 will not outrun a 73 mph tornado if there are others on the road trying to do the same thing. Your best bet of survival in an EF 5 tornado is underground. I was in the F5 of May 3, 1999. They found cars on the air force base in Oklahoma City that were from Chickasha, OK over 35 miles away. The only way to find out who owned them was the Vin# on the firewall. The only place worse than being in a car during a tornado is in a trailer home.
The force of the tornado winds can suck you right out of your seat belt if they are strong enough. Usually, in the midst of the storm, it will be hard to gaige just how powerful the storm is at that point in time. Also, cars can be (and often are) picked up and hurled for MANY yards. There is no "safe-place" to be in a car if that happens. If you are far enough away to navigate away from the storm then that is the correct time to remain in the car. If you can't do that then removing yourself from a vehicle and getting into the lowest possible area gives you the best chance to be "skipped-over" by the tornado.
The fastest observed speed of a moving tornado was 73 mph. My car can get passed 80. Seems like a no brainer to me. If I see a tornado coming I go the other way IN my car. I don't exit the vehicle and lie down.
Do you think that tornadoes follow the road? You can only go where the road takes you, the tornado doesn't care, it just mows up everything in its path. It's a lot more difficult than you think to outrun a tornado.
There is not one second in this video where the reporter even mentions a car let alone leaving one for lower ground.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE verify the advice given by a reporter to not stay in a car if a tornado is nearby! Those that would take your advise are not fluent about the variables that are involved. If, for example there is no significantly lower/safer place nearby, it would be insane to remove yourself from a multi-ton steel cage with safety belts....ideally you should drive your "safety cage" to a very low spot . I am absolutely not faulting the reporter who was reporting what he understood, however the surface area to mass ratio of the human body is comparable to that of a car....the point being that it is better to be flown around or tossed around within a car than on your own. The tragedy of those who sought shelter in a storm drain is an anomaly. If a motorist can obtain shelter in such a place (underground or similar), by all means they should leave their car and do so. If an obvious superior shelter is not obtainable,drive your car to the lowest place available and/or close to objects of significant mass ( berms, other cars, under overpasses and etc), tighten your seat-belts, cover/protect your heads and hope that you don't take a violent ride.
Also, the report all but suggested that a house was superior shelter. Be very clear, the inner-most caverns of a home such as closets, underneath stairwells, and certainly basements are better than being in a car. BUT, the message I heard was to get out of your car...this is not good advice for an area of the country that doesn't necessarily have draws or ravines with much frequency. It may be better advice to crawl under your car than to abandon it, but I truly believe ones chances of survival are better within a running car ( air bags deploy-able) with safety belts fastened.
Paul, a car is a VERY dangerous place to be during a tornado! It is better to get out of the car & lie flat on the ground! Unless you can drive away from the tornado, do not stay in the car.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with AC361°