Tornado in February: what trucker needs to know about danger

February 21, 20220

Heavy thunderstorms and tornadoes often happen in winter and can take drivers by surprise. Truckers need to know the safety rules in case they face this violent act of nature.

On the map, you can see the places where tornadoes are most common in February (hashed in red) – mostly in the south, but also on and off in the Ohio Valley and North Carolina. The south is at increased risk due to its closeness to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

However, rarely, tornadoes can happen outside of the red highlighted areas.

On February 24, 2016, the first deadly February tornadoes were registered in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there were on average 41 tornadoes over the 20-year period from 2000 to 2019 in February. This makes it the least hurricane month among winter months, with December and January ranking first and second respectively.

There were over 100 tornadoes in February 2008 and 2016. On the other hand, there were less than 10 February tornadoes each in the four years between 2000 and 2019. There were 11 tornadoes in 2020.

The record for February tornadoes was set in 2008, when 147 were confirmed.

The deadliest February tornado on record since 1950, when official records began, was an F4 that hit the Mississippi on February 21, 1971, killing 58 people. The February 19-20, 1884 tornado killed 167 people in the southeast as was reported.

Short, rain-shrouded tornadoes can sometimes form without much warning, interspersed in long swathes of severe thunderstorm squalls.

Severe thunderstorms can often move at or above 55 mph, given the strength of the guiding wind overhead. That’s why it’s best to shelter immediately after the warning.


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