Okay, this has gone on far too long. It’s time for a public service (ie safety) announcement.
Under NO circumstances are you to do the following:
— Marcus Diaz (@TheTXWXchaser) March 23, 2019
My road is blocked by LOTS of vehicles seeking shelter under an overpass. This is NOT SAFE or recommended. Pea size hail won’t hurt your vehicle, and if you’re worried about a tornado then why park in a wind tunnel?
*steps off of soap box” pic.twitter.com/oNAGzi7qrs
— Gage Shaw (@WXgage) March 23, 2019
Why? What’s the big deal AT? Well, I’m glad you asked:
- Blocks and prevents emergency personnel from helping others
- Prevents those behind you from taking proper shelter to save their own lives
- It’s illegal and is dangerous when other large vehicles can’t slow down in time
- During a tornado these vehicles become projectiles
- An increase in debris flows under the bridge causing massive injuries
- Due to increased wind speed from the venturi effect you’ll likely be sucked out from underneath and killed
So bottom line, it’s selfish, dumb, and you likely just sentenced yourself and everyone else behind you to certain death or massive injury when a tornado moves through. So yeah, it’s a big deal. Don’t be surprised to see a large cement truck or big rig plow through all of those parked cars just to escape the storm to save themselves and others while you most certainly die from under the bridge. Does this sound harsh? It should. It’s a pet peeve of the meteorological community and not to mention dangerous and against the law.
What you don’t realize is that during a tornado, the winds actually increase under those bridges due to the venturi effect. This basically sucks you out from under it when the tornado draws near as winds flow faster under the bridge. So congrats, you’re safe from a little small hail, but dead from the tornado. Hail dings can be replaced, but your life and the lives of those behind you, can’t be. Go find an exit and proper shelter.
One last point to drive home is that in today’s day and age there is no excuse to be weather ignorant. Get a smart phone, learn how to use it, and load a weather app that has not only radar but a warning alert system that notifies you of dangerous storms and what they contain. That way you can avoid this situation altogether. My free app, ATsWeatherToGo, will send you a custom notification telling you exactly what you’re about to drive into or what to drive away from. So again, no excuses.
So to repeat. Don’t drive into a severe storm and don’t seek shelter under an overpass. When you find yourself at that oopsy moment, take the nearest exit to find adequate shelter.
Bonus Content: The NWS put together a slide presentation regarding this problem. You can read it here: Highway Overpasses as Tornado Shelters