No doubt, tornadoes can be pretty scary, and it’s good that you’re preparing for them. Here’s the bottom line: A tornado can pick up a car, but the amount of damage that it does will depend on the type of car and strength of the tornado.
Tornados are usually classified by the strength of their winds, on a scale from 0 to 5:
A light F0 tornado probably won’t do much damage—it’ll stir up some dust, and maybe knock over a few small trees, but shouldn’t affect your car.
If a tornado starts to swirl a little faster, and lands in the F1 category, it could push your car to the side of the road.
Once you get to an F2 strength (or stronger), the twister will begin to pick up objects like cars, cows, and trees, and toss them around in the air. This is possible because most cars have a great deal of surface area—pair that with the strong updrafts near the center of a tornado, and you’ve got all the necessary ingredients for lift-off.
If you come across a twister while you’re driving along a Kansas highway or backroad, you’ll want to pull to the side of the road, strap your seatbelts, and duck beneath the windows—this should keep you safe while the twister passes.
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