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Tornadoes and Vehicles Don't Mix

Saturday's tornado fatalities included several people who were in their vehicles when the storm hit. Because of that, Governor Blunt and the MO State Highway Patrol are reminding motorists what to do if they're caught in their vehicles during a tornado. KSMU's Michele Skalicky has more.

Captain Tim Hull is director of public information for the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He says if the weather looks threatening, keep informed about what's happening with the weather in the area in which you're travelling.

If you DO get caught in a tornado while you're driving, Hull says you should pull your car as far off the roadway as possible and seek shelter immediately.

"Look for a shelter or building, maybe even something underground, they could get into and take cover. If that's not available, one of the things we've always said to do is to find a real low spot in the ground, a ditch or whatever, and cover themselves up with their arms or a coat or a tarp, anything that they could cover their head up, anyone that's with them as well, protect the young children, too."

Some people might think seeking shelter under an overpass is a good idea. But Hull says a wind tunnel effect can occur, which creates a dangerous situation, and the overpass could collapse. So, seeking shelter in a ditch or other low spot is the best option if no other shelter is available. He stresses the importance of abandoning your vehicle.

"It is capable of being flipped over and rolled around just like the houses are. When you see them, the devastation that the storm causes to the houses, which are actually affixed to the foundation, they're actually ripped off the foundation and destroyed, well, you know a car that only weighs 2000 pounds or so is going to be able to be picked up and rolled around."

Hull suggests keeping blankets or other things to cover up with if you're ever caught on the roadway during a tornado.

For KSMU, I'm Michele Skalicky.