Avoid the Storm: Tips for Driving During a Tornado

A photograph of a very close tornado

Tornadoes are beyond dangerous: they’re downright lethal. Even some of the best storm chasers to ever do it have been killed by tornadoes.

As such, when we say driving near a tornado is incredibly risky, we mean it. If you’re thinking about storm chasing, you do so at your own peril. There’s more than just the wind and rain to contend with.

A photograph of a very close tornado

Storm Tourists

Storm chasing is a big business in the modern era. Storm tourists, also known as “tornado enthusiasts” if you’re trying to be diplomatic, have a habit of clogging roadways, causing traffic jams, and occasionally driving like maniacs. One of the most important skills for a modern storm chaser is knowing how to avoid that traffic and how to keep away from the worst of the accidents.

Drive as defensively as you can when you’re moving into a storm area. Check all intersections, and look both ways even at green lights. When storms roll into town, people seem to forget that traffic laws exist. Don’t assume anything; drive like everyone else is unaware of how their vehicles work. You can’t be too cautious.

Debris from the Storm

Be wary of flying debris in the storm’s path. Strong tornadoes can pick up signposts, fences, entire cars, and pieces of homes and send them flying hundreds of yards.

Even if you’re keeping a healthy distance between yourself and the storm, a flung piece of debris could come hurtling towards you at any moment. Stay vigilant when you’re on the storm’s trail.

Tornado’s Path

Of course, the tornado itself is another huge element of danger when you’re pursuing a storm. After all, their paths can be difficult to predict, so it’s pivotal that you keep a healthy distance.

How far back you need to be from a tornado isn’t something you can have a set formula to calculate. Every storm is different, with varying sizes and speeds demanding different approaches when pursuing them. However, it’s vital that you remember the inherent unpredictability of tornadoes when you’re trying to keep pace with one.

At the end of the day, some killer footage of a storm isn’t worth your life.

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Jeremy Liu
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Jeremy Liu

Jeremy Liu has always been fascinated by extreme weather—but he prefers to write about the world’s deadliest storms from the safety and comfort of his home office. He’s much less likely to get hit with a flying cow that way. (And yes, Jeremy’s favorite movie is Twister.)

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Jeremy Liu Written by Jeremy Liu