How to Respond to a Tornado Warning While You're Driving

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There are some situations that might look exciting in the movies, but should definitely be avoided in real life. Driving near a tornado is one of them.
No matter how much car insurance you have, driving during a tornado warning isn’t worth the risk. Not only can you damage your vehicle, tornadoes can cause injuries and even death.
Here’s how you should respond to tornado warnings and what to do if you find yourself facing a severe weather threat as you’re driving.
Tornado behind a group of trees and animals on a grassy field
You shouldn’t try to out-drive a tornado | Twenty20

Don’t drive if there’s a tornado warning

The best way to stay safe during a tornado warning is to avoid driving at all. This sounds like obvious advice, but some drivers chase storms and tornadoes. However, weather conditions can also change unexpectedly.
Thankfully, there are plenty of tools available for your smartphone that can alert you to nearby tornado warnings. As The Drive makes clear, a good weather app on your smartphone can be life-saving.
The Drive recommends WeatherBug or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) official app. Check your weather app’s settings to make sure you’ll see tornado warnings and other severe weather alerts.
You also want to make sure you have a good navigation app; if you do get a tornado warning alert, you’ll need to find a place for shelter. You can save your local news radio station as a preset option to quickly jump to any weather warnings.
Before you head out for a drive, check local weather forecasts and plan your route to avoid warning areas. Keep an eye on the conditions while you’re driving, and pull over safely to check on the forecast if it seems like the weather is getting worse.

How to stay safe in a storm

While experts emphasize that not driving at all is the safest option, it’s not always easy to predict when bad weather is coming. Storms, especially tornadoes, can pop up quickly and travel unpredictably. If you’re driving and you get a tornado warning alert on your phone or the radio, you need to take immediate action.
The best option is to find a building for shelter. Try to find the nearest gas station, rest stop, or other solid structure and wait out the storm there. That being said, don’t try to outrun a tornado.
If you can’t make it to shelter, NOAA offers advice for surviving a tornado in or near your car:
  • Pull off of the road, keep your seatbelt on, and lower your head below window level
  • Cover your head with your hands or a blanket if you can
  • Do not pull your car under a bridge; the hazards are greater than the minimal protection
  • You might have to head for a ditch, but this should be one of your last resorts

What to do after a tornado has passed

After you’ve gone through the harrowing experience of a tornado, take some time to make sure you’re okay. If you’re uninjured, you’ll want to check your car for damage.
A comprehensive car insurance plan will usually cover damage caused by tornadoes or other natural disasters. Document the damage to your vehicle and file a claim as soon as you can. It’s best to ensure you have the coverage you need before you encounter severe weather or get involved in other accidents.
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