Tornado Safety

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Tornadoes are subject to a great deal of speculation and misinformation. Some tornado myths are remaining bits of folklore which are still passed down by word of mouth. The idea that the southwest corner of a structure is the safest place in a tornado was first published in the 1800s, and is still quoted today despite being thoroughly debunked in the 1960s and 70s. Many tornado myths are actively spread by media outlets. News reporters unfamiliar with the science behind tornadoes tend to repeat "common wisdom" which has since been proven incorrect. One notable instance of mass media spreading a tornado myth was after the 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak, where TIME magazine ran a caption on a picture suggesting that highway overpasses were safer tornado shelters than houses. The spread of some myths can even be attributed to sensationalism in the media or in popular tornado-themed movies such as The Wizard of Oz and Twister. Despite the fact that many misconceptions about tornadoes are no longer prevalent, many still remain. This can be attributed to many factors, including stories and news reports told by people unfamiliar with tornadoes, sensationalism by news media and the presentation of incorrect information in popular entertainment. Common myths cover various aspects of the tornado, and include ideas about tornado safety, the minimization of tornado damage, and false assumptions about the size, shape, power, and path of the tornado itself. It is thought by some people that taking shelter under highway overpasses or in the southwest corner of the building provides extra protection from a tornado, but both of these likely increase the danger of injury or death. Some still believe that opening windows ahead of a tornado will reduce the damage from the storm, but this is not true. Some people also believe that escaping in a vehicle is the safest method of avoiding a tornado, but this can increase the danger in many situations. Other myths are that tornadoes can skip houses, always travel in a predictable direction, always extend visibly from the ground to the cloud, and increase in intensity with increasing width; all of these have some basis in fact, but they are certainly not always true. Finally, some people believe that tornadoes only occur in North America, do not occur in winter, are attracted to mobile home parks, or that some areas are protected from tornadoes by rivers, mountains, valleys, tall buildings or other geographical or man-made features; the truth is that tornadoes can occur almost anywhere at any time if the conditions are right. Some geographic areas are just more prone to these conditions than others. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]







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