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Tornadoes have been a source of misconception for hundreds of years. Not knowing the facts can cause serious injury and even death.


  1. Hiding under an overpass is a safe place when a tornado approaches.
    A deadly myth. In actuality, this is the worst place to hide. Tornado winds can be worse under an overpass as they can change direction and wind speeds are higher above ground level. There is no protection from flying debris as most overpasses have no girders.
  2. The southwest corner of a basement is the safest place to go.
    False. The best place to be is in the center (interior) room of a basement or under the basement stairwell.
  3. Open your windows during a tornado will equalize the pressure.
    An old wive’s tale!. Violent winds and flying debris is what can destroy your home, not the pressure. Opening windows only lets in more wind and will do nothing to stop a tornado’s destruction if you are in it’s path.
  4. Tornadoes cannot cross lakes and rivers or cross mountains and hillsides.
    A common misconception. Tornadoes that form on land can cross bodies of water, and a more violent tornado can travel up and down hillsides and mountains. Tornadoes that form on water are called waterspouts. No place is protected from a tornado.
  5. Tornadoes always move to the northeast.
    Another deadly myth that can create a false sense of security. Most tornadoes do move northeast, but tornadoes can arrive from any direction. Tornados can also shift directions without notice due to storm motion changes.


  1. The Mid-South is the most vulnerable region to tornadoes – A study of deadly storms underscores this new research finding. Published by Northern Illinois University meteorologist Walker Ashley. Ashley found that while the “tornado alley” region of the Great Plains boasts the most frequent occurrence of tornadoes, most tornado fatalities occur in the nation’s mid-South region, which includes parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi.
  2. Tornadoes are nature’s most violent and dangerous storms. They can form any time of year, but the season usually runs from March to August with the most outbreaks.
  3. Tornado winds can reach over 300 miles per hour. Tornadoes are measured according to the Enhanced Fujita-Scale that links damage to wind speed.

Click here to see the Fujita Scale for determining the extent of the damage after a tornado.

For more information on tornadoes, visit: - Prepare, Plan, Stay Informed