Tornado myths debunked - Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Tornado myths debunked

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You may have heard the tornado sirens in the area Tuesday morning.

They were being tested as part of Severe Weather Preparedness week.

Illinois ranks in the top ten for number of tornadoes each year in the United States, and severe Weather is especially common this time of the year.

That's why we should all be ready for it.

Pekin Fire Chief Kurt Nelson's team responds to emergencies like tornadoes.

He wants you to know the importance of sirens.

"Unfortunately, a lot of people go outside," said Nelson. "The outdoor warning siren is to let you know you need to get inside due to the fact that there is severe weather in the area," added Nelson.

Just a few miles away, when severe Weather is moving through, Tazewell County EMA Director Dawn Cook's crew is relaying info from trained spotters to the National Weather Service.

"The information we get from spotters out in the field comes into this office ... and then that information is directly relayed to the National Weather Service."

That's a couple of ways officials work to keep you safe, but they say a lot of it lies in your own hands.

"Tornadoes have happened in every single month across Illinois," said Ed Shimon, Meteorologist for the National Weather Service's central Illinois office.

Meteorologists say that's all the more reason to be prepared.

If skies look gray, you may think you're safe, but there are often hidden dangers.

For example, tornadoes are not always visible; they can be rain wrapped. That is just one of the severe weather myths.

Many believe rivers and valleys detour tornadoes, but that is also false. We have seen many in the Illinois River valley.

Likewise, tornadoes often happen within cities. There have been many cases, especially in the Great Planes, where tornadoes have struck metro areas.

There is also the old tale that you should seek shelter under an overpass or bridge; that is false too.

What about opening your windows to equalize pressure? That's something you also should never do.

"Seconds save lives," said Shimon. " Adding, "don't worry about what the windows are doing, just get to safe shelter."

Like many, you may have been confused by the tornado drill Tuesday morning.

If you have cable or satellite television, the message may have been worded strangely.

Many expressed concern that the alert stated, "tornado warning" and not that it was simply a test.

That is because many cable and satellite companies have their own Emergency Alert Systems.

Tuesday serves as an example of how it is important to always be on alert; you never know when Mother Nature could strike.

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