What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of driving during a severe thunderstorm or tornado? If it’s one of the awesome scenes from Twister, it’s time for a reality check. There are ways to stay safe in your car during these events, none of which are demonstrated in that exciting, fictional representation of the ultimate summer storm.
For us regular folks, keeping safe during a severe thunderstorm or tornado in Wisconsin or Minnesota begins with preparation. For starters, if there are any indications that a thunderstorm or tornado is headed your way, don’t go driving. This is true whether you hear a “watch” or a “warning.”
Watch: A severe thunderstorm or tornado watch is an indication that the current weather conditions are favorable for one (or both) of these weather events in your area. Stay home, and see our article, Safety During Thunderstorms or Tornadoes – Home.
Warning: A severe weather warning means there is a storm or tornado currently occurring in your area. Take shelter immediately, and continue with your emergency plan.
Dangerous weather can pop up quickly, and you may get caught in your car. If a severe rain wave hits while you’re driving, pull over and set your hazard lights on to avoid accidents. Keep the car running so the air bags work, just in case.
If there’s a tornado, please don’t try to outdrive it. Twisters are unpredictable, and what is clearly behind you one minute could switch course and be directly in front of you the next.
Instead, try is to find a sturdy structure close by. It might even be okay to run to a nearby house and ask if you can shelter there. Midwesterners tend to come together during emergencies.
If there’s no shelter available, park your car, raise all the windows fully, and crouch as far below the windows as you can get, in the passenger side well or on the back seat floor.
NEVER go near or under a bridge or tunnel. The storm can cause them to collapse, and you’d be buried in the rubble. That usually doesn’t end well.
We need to know about severe thunderstorm and tornado safety while driving in Wisconsin and Minnesota, because these are common events. Be sure to check with your Baldwin Woodville agent before the storm comes, to make sure you have the coverage you will rely on after having come safely through the storm.
Be sure to read our post on safety during thunderstorms and tornadoes when you are at home.