Misconceptions About Tornadoes
Tornado myths are incorrect beliefs about tornadoes, some of which are no longer held. These beliefs can be attributed to many factors, including stories and news reports told by people unfamiliar with tornadoes, sensationalism by news media, and the presentation of incorrect information in popular entertainment. Common myths cover various aspects of the tornado, and include ideas about tornado safety, the minimization of tornado damage, and false assumptions about the size, shape, power, and path of the tornado itself.
It is thought by some people that taking shelter under highway overpasses or in the southwest corner of the building provides extra protection from a tornado, but both of these probably increase the danger of injury or death. Some still believe that opening windows ahead of a tornado will reduce the damage from the storm, but this is not true. Some people also believe that escaping in a vehicle is the safest method of avoiding a tornado, but this could increase the danger in some situations. Other myths are that tornadoes can skip houses, always travel in a predictable direction, always extend visibly from the ground to the cloud, and increase in intensity with increasing width. Finally, some people believe that tornadoes only occur in North America, do not occur in winter, are attracted to mobile home parks, or that some areas are protected from tornadoes by rivers, mountains, valleys, tall buildings or other geographical or man-made features; the truth is that tornadoes can occur almost anywhere at any time if the conditions are right. Some geographic areas are simply more prone to these conditions than others.
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