North Dakota isn’t exactly tornado alley, but they’re still a threat.
On average, the state sees 23 tornadoes in a given year.
Last year, we saw just 15 across the state. But it only takes one to end a life or devastate a community.
You can ask the people of Mott that. They were hit by an EF-1 tornado last July that took them nearly a year to completely recover from.
“When you see two, 50,000-pound steel grain bins crushed in like a paper cup, then you say, ‘Wow’ and understand the power of the storm,” said Gov. Doug Burgum last July.
And the power of that EF-1 is a sobering reminder that when the skies get dark and the sirens sound, you must find shelter immediately.
So what should you should do when a tornado warning is issued for your area?
“If you’re in the house, you want to get to the basement. I’m actually in my family’s tornado shelter, I’m in the basement of my home. We have a closet off of the bathroom, in the basement where we store things, I’m in there, these are the stairs behind me going downstairs. I’m in a small room, it’s the best place to be. You want to be in a basement, a closet in the basement, or an area like we do here,” said John Paul Martin with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
But let’s say you’re not at home, what do you do? If you’re in your car, well, try to get inside a building as soon as possible. If that’s not an option then you should buckle up and crouch down as low as you can in the vehicle and try to cover your head.
You might think that cars are actually safer today as many have over a dozen airbags, but Martin says that’s not necessarily the case.
“Once those airbags deploy, they almost always then begin to deflate, so if that’s the case, it’s going to be great for you for a few seconds, but once those airbags deflate and that car starts to roll, it didn’t really help you, in the end, all that much,” said Martin.
Some of the worst things you can do when a tornado warning is issued is go outside and try to be a social media star. The video just isn’t worth the risk.
And despite what you may have seen, hiding under an overpass is one of the worst things you can do.
“Do not go under the overpass and get out of the vehicle and climb up under the Girder. Don’t do that, you’ll be very easily sucked out of there,” said Martin.
Thanks to advancements in technology, most people have around 12 minutes of lead time now to act once a tornado warning is issued.
Valuable minutes and seconds you have to save you and your family’s lives.