As the warm weather begins to roll in, it’s important to be aware of the growing threat of hazardous weather. While I’m sure you know the proper safety precautions of trucking the rain, sleet, and snow – it’s important that you’re also aware of more severe weather – tornados. This past month kicked off tornado season, so it’s important that you know what to do if you come across inclement weather. Severe thunderstorms or even tornadoes take dozens of lives each year, so it’s important that you know how to handle the safety of yourself and your rig during tornado season.
Tornado Season Trucking Tips
As a trucker, you should already be constantly aware of your surroundings, so it’s important to be able to spot the signs of severe weather on the horizon. First, let’s take a look at some of the signs of a tornado according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- A dark or green-colored sky
- A large, dark, low-lying cloud
- Large hail
- A loud roar reminiscent of a train
In many cases, it’s more important to focus on what you’re seeing, instead of what you’re hearing. There often is a calm before the storm that can fool truckers into thinking that the severe weather has missed them when in fact the storm may be gearing up to hit with full force.
It’s also a good idea to look at what your fellow travelers are doing. If you start to notice that many are off the road or pulled over to the side, it might be time for you to do the same. Finally, if you do see a funnel cloud (the beginnings of a tornado) or and actual tornado, seek shelter immediately.
As a trucker, it’s not only important to listen to the surrounding environment, but to your fellow truckers as well. It’s important to understand the tornado season lingo if you’re heading for inclement weather. A storm or tornado “watch” means that the conditions are favorable for a possible thunderstorm or tornado. A storm or tornado “warning” means that severe weather is imminent and there is a possibility that a severe thunderstorm or tornado as already been recorded. While a warning is more foreboding than a watch, both should be taken very seriously.
It’s also important that you listen to your fellow truckers out there. The trucking community is a family that hopefully will always look out for each other. If you hear that other truckers are battling severe weather, it might be a good idea to reroute your rig, or even seek shelter nearby. It’s also a good idea to listen to local weather reports so you have a good idea of where and how severe the impending weather is.
If there is a tornado nearby, you should immediately seek shelter if possible. Although your rig may seem sturdy and safe, even weaker tornados can toss your rig into the air with ease. Expert opinions vary regarding tornado safety when you’re stuck on the roadway during a tornado. There is truly no safe option when you are caught in the path of a tornado in a vehicle; just slightly less dangerous ones.
Your best course of action will depend on your exact location, the tornado’s location, its speed, its direction of movement, the road options available to you, nearby structures, the time of day, and traffic. In other words, there is no single recommendation for which last-resort action you should take because many factors can affect your decision. If you cannot seek shelter, the best thing you can do is park your rig off the road and to get an in a low-lying ditch. While many think that seeking shelter under an overpass is a good idea, this is not the case. Regardless, it’s important that during tornado season you do your best to look out for your own safety.