When it comes to extreme weather, what you don’t know could hurt you. In fact, it’s vital to your safety that you don’t believe the myths! So separate the facts from the fiction and learn how to stay safe with these tips below.
Lightning myths and facts
Myth: Rubber-soled shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from being injured by lightning.
Fact: Rubber does not provide protection from lightning. But the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection from lightning (if you aren’t touching metal in the car).
Myth: People struck by lightning carry an electrical charge and should not be touched.
Fact: Lightning-strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
Myth: Lightning never strikes twice in the same place.
Fact: Actually, it can strike the same place over and over again. The Empire State Building in New York City gets hit around 25 times a year!
Flood myths and facts
Myth: Large and heavy vehicles, like SUVs and pickups, are safe to drive through flood waters.
Fact: It’s a common belief that the larger the vehicle, the deeper the water it can drive through. Many people don’t realize that 2 feet of water can float most vehicles, including SUVs and pickups. If the water is moving rapidly, vehicles can, in fact, be swept away.
Myth: Flash floods only occur along flowing streams.
Fact: Flash floods can and do occur in dry creek or river beds as well as urban areas where no streams are present.
Tornado myths and facts
Myth: Highway and interstate overpasses are safe shelters against a tornado.
Fact: Overpasses can concentrate the tornado winds, causing them to be significantly stronger. This places the people under them in an even more precarious situation because ultimately being above ground during a tornado is dangerous.
Myth: The low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to explode. Opening the windows will equalize the pressure, saving the building.
Fact: Opening the windows in an attempt to equalize pressure will have no effect. The violent winds and debris are what cause most of the structural damage. It’s more important for you to move to a safe area away from windows and exterior walls. With a tornado, every second counts, so use your time wisely and take cover.
Hurricane myths and facts
Myth: Hurricanes that may impact the U.S. and typhoons that may impact parts of Asia are different types of storms.
Fact: Hurricanes and typhoons are the same weather phenomenon: tropical cyclones. A tropical cyclone is a generic term used by meteorologists to describe a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has closed, low-level circulation.
Myth: Once the eye of a hurricane’s calm weather passes over you, it’s safe to go outside again.
Fact: The hurricane’s eye wall that surrounds the eye contains the storm’s strongest winds. It’s not safe to go outside until the entire storm is over.
Myth: I can apply to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] to make my name a hurricane name.
Fact: NOAA does not determine hurricane names. The list of names is established by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization.
For Atlantic hurricanes, there’s a list of names for every 6 years, according to the NOAA. The only time that there’s a change is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for obvious reasons of sensitivity. Examples of retired hurricane names include Katrina, Sandy, Michael, and Dorian.
Bonnie Schneider is a national television meteorologist and author of the book Extreme Weather, published by Macmillan. She is currently writing her next book, Weather & Wellness: Unlocking the Connection Between Weather, Climate Change, and Your Health. Bonnie has over 260k followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.