If you are traveling to Texas or the South (yes, they are different but that’s for another post) during tornado season in the early Spring, you’ll want to be mindful of tornadoes and other severe weather. During this time of year, the bluebonnets are beautiful but the twisters…not so much.
And, yes, flaming tumbleweed warnings really are a thing. Wildfire conditions and high winds can be disastrous. Although rare, it’s quite a sight to behold. Nonetheless, severe weather isn’t rare and there are a few things you should know in advance to maximize your safety.
Turn on Smartphone Alerts for Real-Time Severe Weather Warnings
Both iPhone and Android phones allow you to turn alerts in and off. When you’re in the South during the Spring, you’ll definitely want to enable those.
Finding a “Safe Space”
If the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, you’ll need to find a safe space to ride out the storm. Find a room on the lowest floor of a house, most office buildings, or a hotel. A bathroom, closet, or any room without windows will work. It’s best to find a room that does not have exterior walls if possible. We rode out the last storm in our laundry room.
You want to already know where that room is BEFORE the storm happens. If you have young children, you might even want to practice moving into the room without panicking. Bring a mattress or cushions if you have the available.
If you live in a mobile home, leave and take shelter in a nearby permanent building. If that isn’t possible, lie flat in a ditch or ravine.
Get Out of Your Car!
If you find yourself in a tornado and you’re in a car, do not drive towards the storm. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car. Listen to local radio stations about alternate routes to a safe place and take shelter there. If you can’t find a shelter, get out and lie flat in a ditch or a ravine.
Schools and Large Open Buildings
In buildings with large spaces, such as schools or convention halls, follow posted plans and go to a designated shelter area, usually interior hallways on the lowest floor. Avoid auditoriums, gyms and areas with wide, free-span roofs. In shopping centers, move towards the interior away from exterior glass walls.
For More Information
- Jennifer has some advice from a seasoned traveler about handling weather delays.
- For additional safety information, see the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website.