Run for it! Or not! El Reno Tornado May 31st 2013

To run from a tornado or not run from a tornado, that is the question. It has been commonly taught in schools throughout Tornado Alley and in weather training classes that you are not to run from a tornado. That concept was challenged this last week after the El Reno tornado threatened Oklahoma City. People were encouraged to drive away from the tornado if they could not find cover underground. The chances of safely getting away from a tornado, especially without prior training and extensive knowledge of the road systems is slim. It is not a good idea to drive away from a tornado, especially within a city. The main thing is, especially within a city or highway system, it creates a gridlock situation. Everyone sitting there is now a sitting duck. What is taught is when you see a tornado coming your way and you are in a car, get out of your car and lie in a ditch with your hands over your head. It’s better to be in a ditch than being picked up in a car and thrown…which brings me to my next topic

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El Reno Tornado

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Chasers getting entirely too close to tornadoes. In my opinion, unless you are driving a reinforced tornado chasing vehicle(we all know who I am talking about),and you have the ability to anchor yourself to the ground, you have no business, whatsoever being closer than ½ mile-1 mile of a tornado, especially these 1.5 mile monsters and multiple vortices that have been dropping. Some of the ones that were hurt, it was not their fault, from what I’ve heard.

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Tim Samaras

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Tim Samaras

The Storm Chasing community endured a  tragedy this last week,with the shocking death of Tim Samaras,his son and his chase partner in the El Reno tornado on Friday. Tim was the safest chaser I had ever heard of,so although we don’t know what happened as of yet,it is safe to say he wasn’t taking unnecessary risks.Some tornadoes,like the El Reno tornado just do some freaky things.Change directions,blow up or drop a tornado right on you. But some of the other footage I’ve seen, way too close. If you put yourself at risk, needlessly, you are taking away emergency services that could otherwise be somewhere more needful. Choose to not put yourselves at risk. As a Skywarn spotter I know that it is not necessary at all to be that close, to make reports or get good photographs.

You might be too close to a tornado if:

You can count the spots on the cows as they fly by.

You can tell if that bale of hay is round or rectangular.

You know the type of tree that just went past your window”oh look…a maple”.

You see the witch from Wizard of Oz ride by on her bicycle.

So, take cover, don’t get stuck in a traffic jam during a tornado warning and don’t take emergency services away from those who need it by getting too close to a tornado.