Texas Tech University

Tornado heading your way: Now what?

News 4 Jax

January 21, 2017

News 4 Jax - Odds are, you're one of four types of people reading this. Either you just found out there's a tornado warning in your area, there's a tornado watch in your area, you're trying to prepare for a tornado early on or you think it'd be wise to know what to do JUST in case.

While the most common advice is to shelter in place, some experts say it may sometimes be smart to run.

Ernst Kiesling, a civil engineering professor at Texas Tech University who has spent his life studying tornadoes and developing above-ground storm shelters to protect against them, says it's a "tough question."

"My advice would be to seek the safest place available. That is: lie in a ditch or ... (get) behind a heavy object if you had a tractor or even a tree."

He cited the 1979 Wichita Falls, Texas, tornado as a cautionary lesson. That twister killed 54 people and, Kiesling noted, "many people were killed in automobiles because they tried to outrun it."

Still, Kiesling allowed, there may be times when fleeing an impending tornado might be a good option.

"If you have good information on the storm, if you have plenty of warning, if you have an automobile, it may make sense, but I personally don't feel that's the advice that we want to give the public."

Read the story here.