Severe Weather

Don’t Do This When Severe Weather Strikes and You Are Driving

By Brian Donegan

May 16 2019 12:00 PM EDT

weather.com

Severe Storms Possible into Start of New Week

At a Glance

  • Do not seek shelter under a highway overpass or bridge during severe weather.
  • Drivers in Oklahoma did this during a hailstorm on March 23, leaving others in harm's way as they blocked the highway.

If severe weather strikes when you are in your vehicle, do not seek shelter under an overpass or bridge, as drivers in Oklahoma did during a hailstorm on March 23.

While it might seem like a good idea in theory – after all, the overpass would protect your car or truck from potentially damaging hailstones – it puts other vehicles at risk because you're blocking traffic as you sit there waiting for the storm to pass.

Drivers sought shelter under an overpass during a hailstorm in Oklahoma on Saturday, March 23, 2019.
(Oklahoma Emergency Management/Twitter)

A bridge or overpass also does not protect you from a tornado. If a tornado were to strike a traffic jam behind a blocked overpass, a major disaster could result.

Interstate 44 westbound in Oklahoma was at a standstill on March 23 after numerous vehicles parked below an overpass for protection from a hailstorm. These selfish drivers then left the dozens of cars and trucks behind them in harm's way, unable to go around the vehicles parked beneath the overpass.

(MORE: Tornado Central)

To keep you and other vehicles out of danger, the National Weather Service offers some tips on what to do if you're in a similar situation during a severe thunderstorm.

-Check the weather before driving.

-Delay travel if there are storms along your route.

-Don't drive into a storm.

-If you encounter a storm, exit the road and find sturdy shelter.

Most importantly, do not seek shelter under a bridge or overpass. You could prevent others from reaching real shelter.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.