The Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness would like to debunk some weather myths so Michiganians can focus on what they need to do to stay safe during tornadoes, thunderstorms and flooding.
MYTH: When a tornado is approaching, open windows!
FACT: Don’t spend precious moments opening windows because it does not reduce tornado damage. Just get to the lowest level of the building, away from windows. Anyone close to a window could be injured or killed by flying debris.
MYTH: Get out of a car and hide under a highway overpass.
FACT: Overpasses are not tornado shelters. People died in Wichita Falls in April of 1979, and 20 years later in Oklahoma City after seeking shelter in highway overpasses. The design of overpasses can cause tornadic winds to accelerate.
MYTH: Cars are safer than mobile homes during a tornado.
FACT: Neither one is safe. Get to the nearest tornado shelter. If you are in your car and there are no structures near, abandon the vehicle and get in the nearest ditch and cover your head.
MYTH: Tornadoes are the number one severe weather killer in the United States.
FACT: Flash flooding is actually the number one severe weather-related killer in the country.
MYTH: Areas near rivers, lakes, and mountains are safe from tornadoes.
FACT: No place is safe from tornadoes. In the late 1980s, a tornado swept through Yellowstone National Park leaving a path of destruction up and down a 10,000 ft. mountain.
MYTH: Tornadoes tend to avoid large cities.
FACT: Not true...many large cities across the country were directly hit by tornadoes in recent years, including Atlanta (2008), Oklahoma City (1998, 1999), and Detroit (1997).
MYTH: The threat of a lightning strike is gone once the rain stops.
FACT: If you can hear thunder, you can still be hit by lightning. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from a storm. The general rule is wait 30 minutes after the last lightning or thunder to resume outdoor activities.