10 Myths About Surviving a Tornado

You Can Outrun a Tornado in Your Car
This bus driver's reaction is appropriate: Trying to outrun a tornado in your vehicle is totally unsafe. kissenbo/iStock/Thinkstock

Why not just try to outrun a tornado? After all, cars can go a lot faster! The problem with this strategy is that a lot could go wrong. What if the tornado is moving erratically? What if traffic, debris or high water blocks your escape route? The risks are just too great.

If you are already in a sturdy building, take shelter there instead of hopping in the car. In the aftermath of a 1979 tornado outbreak in Texas and Oklahoma, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that half of the fatalities and injuries happened to people fleeing the storms in their cars. Tragically, many left houses that were untouched by the twisters [source: Associated Press].

But what if you're on the road and just happen to cross a tornado? If the funnel is visible and far away, try to determine its speed and direction and whether the roads are clear. If — and only if — you're sure you can make it to the nearest shelter, drive away from the storm, preferably at a right angle to its path, not directly away from it. If you can't get away, your choices will be between bad and worse. One is to get out and lie in an area lower than the roadway, protecting your head with your hands. The other is to stay in the car with your seatbelt fastened and duck below the windows while covering your head [source: Edwards].