PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — The weather in Pennsylvania can be unpredictable to say the least. From snowing in May to heatwaves in February, we pretty much see all kinds of weather here in the Keystone State.
One of the things the state sees every year is among nature’s most violent: the tornado.
But, how many of these do we see in the state? According to Ground Zero Shelters, an average of 16 tornadoes touch down each year in the state. The National Weather Service states that 170 twisters have touched down in the Midstate since 1950, with Lancaster County seeing the most in that period at 35.
Like many things, tornadoes come with myths, and if some of these myths are followed, they may be life-threatening. Here are common myths and why they are not true when it comes to tornadoes
Myth: Mountains, valleys, and large lakes can stop tornadoes.
The NWS states that while conditions would not be optimal for tornado development on top of mountains or over the Great Lakes, tornadoes have been documented to cross the Appalachian Mountains and cross a 10,000-tall mountain in Yellowstone National Park. There have been instances of tornadoes in mountain regions, such as the December 2006 Luzerne County tornado.
Myth: Tornadoes can only occur in the Spring and Summer in Pennsylvania.
While normally the best time for tornadoes in Pennsylvania is in the late spring and summer months, tornadoes can hit at any time of the year. We have had tornadoes hit in February, as well as December. As long as the conditions are there, it does not matter what time of year a tornado may hit.
Myth: Highway and interstate overpasses are safe shelters against a tornado.
Overpasses can concentrate the tornado winds, causing them to be significantly stronger and can place people in an even worse situation. Recently people have been killed due to seeking shelter in an overpass. The best thing is to find shelter in a building underground, and if none is available, lie down flat in a ditch, and not near an overpass.
Myth: Open windows in your house to equalize pressure.
Do not waste the time and do this. Your house or apartment will not “explode” due to a pressure change. Taking the time to open windows during a tornado warning reduces the ability to seek shelter. Also, opening windows allow damaging winds to enter the structure.