Spring weather in the Midwest could test the patience of the biblical Job. One day, kids are out cavorting in the sunshine in shorts and T-shirts and the next, they're bundled back up again in mittens and snow boots.
But by far the most destructive spring weather patterns in the Midwest are tornadoes. While spring storms can develop quickly, technological advances in the field of meteorology allow weather forecasters to predict with great accuracy when conditions are prime for severe storm activity in the area.
Of course, it is always better to avoid driving in a spate of harsh weather, but in reality, that is not always possible. Below are some tips for drivers who find themselves on the road when a tornado forms.
Give the situation your full attention
Listen to the radio for weather reports and tornado warnings, but keep the volume low so that you don't get distracted and miss the sound of an approaching tornado. Rain-wrapped tornadoes are cloaked from view and may not even appear on Doppler radar. Yet, they can be huge and create mile-wide swaths of devastation in their wake.
When you see the funnel
Not all funnel clouds turn into tornadoes. Many just twist in the wind for awhile before harmlessly breaking up. But any motorist who sees a funnel cloud forming needs to take immediate evasive action.
It may be possible to avoid its path by driving at right angles to the twister. Alternatively, if the tornado will cross the road horizontally, traffic can simply halt and let the storm pass through.
Seek safe shelter
Unfortunately, it is not always possible to drive out of harm's way or let it pass by. If you are in the path of the tornado, you need to seek shelter in a sturdy building. A convenience store, restaurant or any nearby business will do in a pinch. Inside, walk-in coolers can provide an additional buffer. Lacking that, find an inner room or inside wall and huddle beside it and cover your head.
There is a misconception that crouching beneath highway overpasses during tornadoes will keep you safe. That is a myth, as they can become wind tunnels where people can easily be sucked out and into the storm's wrath. Even a highway ditch is better than under an overpass.
If you have to shelter in your vehicle, make sure you are buckled in tightly. Cover your head with any available padding and duck beneath the windshield level.
Be wary of storm conditions
When spring storms threaten, be watchful of other drivers on the road. While you may be a safe driver, even in inclement weather, it's a sure bet that not all who share the road with you will be as safe.
If you get into an accident with an at-fault driver, make sure to take the necessary steps to hold them liable for their negligence.