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Would you drive away from a verified long track, violent tornado? (1 Viewer)


I have never done this, but I wondered about it on 4.27.11 when the Cordova afternoon EF-4 was on a track not too far north of my location. A slight right turn could have brought the core over my area.

If you knew a long track, strong to violent tornado was likely to pass over your location, would you load the family up and drive south away from it? This is assuming that you are not in an area with a lot of traffic and felt comfortable watching the radar. Or would you roll the dice and hope/pray that the core did not pass over? We do have a daylight basement, but it is only fully underground on one side. The southwest side is partially exposed. The southeast and northeast-facing basement walls are entirely above ground.
 

KoD

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Depends on the storm motion. If it was barreling towards us at 50+ mph I'd shelter in place, whereas say a 30mph cell I'd load up the car and hit the road. I don't live far from a highway with decent visibility towards the west/southwest but if I lived closer to the middle of the city I'd probably reconsider.
 

Liberty4dayz

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Depends really, unfortunately myself, my wife, and 4 kids currently live in a manufactured home. I live on a mountain outside Dunlap. I'm already looking to maybe go to my Mother In Law's place tomorrow. Depending on timing. If it was daytime I would try to get outta the way, I feel like I know enough about radar, etc to make an informed of enough decision. At night, no idea...decision woikd be based on prayer I guess.
 

Jacob

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Moody, AL
Depends on the situation and the day. I was living in Tuscaloosa on 4/27/11. I didn't really have a great location to go, and seeing how everything had been going up to that point, I left out and drove south of town before the tornado moved through. That storm was the exception though, I had about an hour heads up or more.
 

warneagle

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If I lived in Oklahoma or Kansas, where the tornado is probably visible and moving at a reasonable speed? Yes.

If I lived in Alabama or Mississippi where the tornado is probably rain-wrapped and moving 50 mph? No.

Where I live now? The strongest tornado on record here was an F1, but there's no way I could drive away from a tornado here.
 

Cliffhanger

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Yes, I have done so several times. We have no shelter where we live, so on "red letter" days we go ahead and pre-load the animals into one of the vehicles. If a warning is issued for the western edge of the county to our west, we head for the interstate, wait to see where it goes, then drive north or south as needed. Most notably I did this alone on April 27, 2011. Took me over two hours to get to my mother's house (she has a basement), which is usually a 30-35 minute drive. I had a car full of animals, and she had radar pulled up at home, and was telling me over the phone whether to drive north or south to dodge the next storm. I pulled into her driveway just as the warning was issued for Jefferson County for the "big one." We got the animals unloaded downstairs, and watched as debris from Tuscaloosa rained down all around us. Later, I watched on radar as a very distinct rotation went right over my house. I told Mom, "I guess we don't have a house anymore, but at least everyone is safe." We were fortunate that day; the tornado lifted about 3 miles before reaching our house. All we had was debris in our yard, but thankfully no damage.

TL;DR: Yes, this is our severe weather plan for the large, long-track tornadoes. For smaller ones, QLCSs and spinups, we just hope for the best.
 

sak

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Birmingham, AL
This depends on a lot of factors including but not limited to:
- How likely is this a strong EF3+ tornado?
- What does my home shelter area look like? (Basement with lots of walled off rooms? Slab home with open floorplan?)
- How fast is it moving?
- What direction is it moving?
- Do I have a southeast escape (right angle path) and what type of road is it?
- Where are other storms?
- Could there be damage in areas along my escape path?
- How reliable is my transportation?

In most situations, I would not advocate running from a storm without a southeast escape path. Because most killer tornadoes travel generally SW to NE, I think driving at a right angle away from the storm (SE) would give you the best chance to just get out of the path. I live very near the intersection of AL state highway 119 and US highway 280. If a long track tornado is crossing Interstate 65 and moving in the general direction along 119, I'm getting in my car with my kenneled cats and heading southeast on 280 down to Chelsea until the storm passes.

Note: I have not had to put this plan into action, but I've thought about this for years and feel confident enough in my own skills to make this type of decision. However, every person's set of variables will be dramatically different... and what works for me with en encyclopedic knowledge of AL roadways and keen weather watcher for decades is going to be a lot different than the average person or a transplant that has lived here for 6 months.
 

J-Rab

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I actually had this choice in front of me today and it wasn’t nearly as clear cut as one might think.

I had the monstrous supercell that had a confirmed tornado (the first Bassfield/Seminary/Soso storm) bearing down on me. Looking at radar, I was pretty sure it was easily going to go to my West and North. Then, as it approached, it looked more and more like it might actually hit us. About that time I got an alert on my phone calling it a “Tornado Emergency”. I know the significance of that, so i got a nice shot of Adrenalin all at once.

I told my wife, “We can make it to the highway and go south and be 100% sure to be out of its way... but we gotta go now.” I still thought it would go to our Northwest but it was going to be too close for comfort.

Well, she didn’t want to be out on the road in it and as we debated, time ticked away and it became a moot point as by then I could easily see (on radar and just by looking off of my deck) that it was going to miss us by a little.

Had it been just a bit to the East in its track, I would have put her in the car much sooner and gotten well out of the way. However, I had been watching that storm since it was in Louisiana and I (correctly) thought it would miss us... but I won’t do that again. If it’s that bad, I’m getting out of the way much sooner. We have a very solid brick home but I knew this wasn’t a typical tornado and I wouldn’t have risked it with that storm.

I probably should have gotten her in the car and gone South sooner instead of watching to see if it would miss us or hit us. For a fast moving cell like that, I waited way too long.
 

Gail

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Caledonia, MS
The day the tornado hit Columbus, we left early and spent a nice day at Hattiesburg Zoo. We’ve never done that before, but that day just felt off to me. We have a community EF-5 rated shelter now (elementary school). It’s practically next door and large so I’d go there now.
 

J-Rab

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The day the tornado hit Columbus, we left early and spent a nice day at Hattiesburg Zoo. We’ve never done that before, but that day just felt off to me. We have a community EF-5 rated shelter now (elementary school). It’s practically next door and large so I’d go there now.
It would be very nice to have an EF5 rated shelter close by your house. Much better for you than having to drive all the way down here.

If Hattiesburg keeps getting hit with tornadoes, they might have to build better Shelters.

This was the third tornado that has come within about 5 miles of me since 2013 (I lived in Petal for the first two). The 2013 EF4, the 2017 EF3, and now this EF4 (5?). The 2013 storm missed me by about a mile but the 2017 EF3 hit one street over in my neighborhood. Close enough to make my ears pop.

Of course the Bassfield EF4 was the worst of the trio but it missed me by the widest margin (5 miles or so). That 2017 storm hitting at 2:30 in the morning was bad though. Nothing like having your phone wake you up, screeching that there is a tornado in your area and to take cover... only to have your ears start popping before you can even get out of bed.
 

Weatherphreak

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Huntsville
Supercell yes, squall line no. Usually you have at least 30 minutes to get north or south of the approaching storm. There’s been twice recently that I’ve traced a supercell from the Mississippi border directly towards my house and have had time to get out of the way. Squal line’s are usually low end tornados and you’d be in just as much danger driving through the rain and winds. Most houses interior walls will hold up to an EF3 and with proper precautions you’d probably be ok.
 

buckeye05

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Riverside, Ohio
I'll admit, I have. When the Memorial Day EF4 moved into Dayton last year, my SO and I bailed. We live right by a highway on ramp that dives south. As soon as I saw a hook and couplet moving towards the western suburbs of Dayton, we were out of there. We actually left before our county was even in the warning, but I could tell it was going to be bad, and a very close shave. We drove south of Dayton to Springboro and parked in a parking lot, and watched the debris ball go through Dayton on radar while I contacted family members in the path. It was a thoroughly frightening experience, but I had good escape route and plenty of time to get out of the way. Would do it again if need be.

Now if this were a QLCS situation, we would have hunkered down in the basement closet. In those type of situations, you can easily end up driving into another rapidly developing spinup tornado while trying to escape the initial one. The Dayton tornado however, was spawned by a classic, isolated discrete supercell with an obvious path and debris ball, and nothing to the south of us. It really comes down to storm mode in the end.
 
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Brice

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Virginia
I would drive into it.......... Only if I had a dominator 4. I had family in Elon, Va in 2018. I was watching that embedded cell come right into Elon. I called my grandparents and told them to get into their car and drop south as fast as you can. They did, the next morning I went up there to look at their house, 2 walls remained standing. I saved 2 lives from a mid range EF3.
 

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