Being a truck driver exposes you to weather that you may not be all too familiar with. Sure being from Winnipeg you can look any snow storm in the eye and leave it quivering behind laughing all the way, but will you have the same attitude when the conditions are ripe for a tornado?

Knowing the signs of the perfect storm is important for all truck drivers to know because, let’s face it, your job is going to introduce you to weather you didn’t even believe was possible.

Tornado Warning Signs

A lot of research goes into being able to predict tornadoes and increase warning times for those that may be in the path of a tornado. When it comes to tornadoes being prepared is more critical than any other natural event. This is because tornadoes can strike suddenly, sometimes with no warning at all. That is why it is important to know the signs; they key elements that usually come before the twister. If you run into these conditions it is probably time to get the radio on to listen for reports from the National Weather Service:

  • An unusual greenish or black colour in the sky
  • Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift.
  • A visible funnel cloud that has not yet touched the ground.
  • A loud continuous rumble that does not fade after a few seconds, as thunder does. Tornadoes have described as sounding like a waterfall, freight train or jet.

Where to Pay Special Attention

While tornadoes can touch down just about anywhere, there are some states and provinces where the conditions tend to be more favorable for the touchdown to occur.

Your big tornado areas are South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas; to a lesser extent North Dakota, Montana, Illinois, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

What to do if you Encounter Tornado Conditions

  1. Keep up with the weather conditions. By checking weather conditions you will get an idea if you’re driving into an area that is under a tornado watch allowing you to stop and shut down before getting into the affected area or adjusting your route to avoid the storm.
  2. Be aware that even if you don’t run into a funnel, high winds can be dangerous as well. Tornadoes are part of a larger weather system; high winds can blow a fully loaded truck off the road.
  3. If you get caught in a severe storm try to stop where there are locals, such as a truck stop. Local people will have a good idea what to do, when to get out of dodge, and where to go and how to get there.
  4. If you can’t get to a truck stop, try to get off the freeway; don’t stop on the shoulder. Don’t park under overpasses. These act as a venturi and speed up the airflow or they can collapse.
  5. If you’re forced to abandon the truck and are physically outside get down to the ground, preferably in a ditch, to avoid flying debris.

If a tornado warning is issued or if a tornado has touched down near you, take immediate action to ensure your safety.