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How to Survive a Gulf Coast Tornado in Your Car

November 14, 2019

The Gulf Coast is no stranger to extreme weather. As our tornado season approaches, Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys’ team is sharing safety tips that can keep Alabama and Mississippi’s roads as safe as possible before, during, and after tornadoes. Keep reading to learn how to stay safe during a tornado when you’re behind the wheel, and what to do if you can’t get a fair property damage settlement afterward.

The Gulf Coast Experiences More Tornados Than Average

Unlike most of the world, Alabama and Mississippi have two tornado seasons: one in spring and another during the late fall early winter. Thanks to our states’ unique climate and geography, we experience some of the highest tornado volumes in the country. In 2018, the federal government documented the following:

  • Mississippi: 68 tornados, ranking #3 in the United States
  • Alabama: 52 tornados, ranking #5 in the United States

While our states reported tornado-related injuries, none of them were fatal.

These tornados cause widespread and devastating property damage and injuries. In 2017, U.S. insurance companies paid out roughly $18 million in tornado-related claims.

RELATED: Who Are Insurance Adjusters and What Are Their Tactics?

What to Do if a Tornado Forms While You’re Driving

As tornado season approaches, it’s important to understand how to protect yourself, especially if you’re on the road when a tornado forms or touches down. Unfortunately, many drivers have misconceptions about tornado safety.

Find Safe Shelter

If you’re on the open road when a tornado touches down in the distance, the safest option is to drive away from it and seek shelter. You should move away from the storm at a 90° angle. So, if the funnel cloud is heading west, you should head north or south.

However, tornados are incredibly unpredictable and frequently change directions. As quickly as possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building, ideally in a basement, cellar or crawlspace, or interior room without windows. Remember, mobile homes are extremely dangerous, and you should seek shelter elsewhere if you can.

Avoid Parking Under Bridges and Overpasses

It might seem like a good place to wait out the storm, but you should never hide under an overpass or bridge during a tornado. Overpasses can create deadly wind tunnels that channel the storm’s forces and can increase their wind speed.

Furthermore, your damaged vehicle can create congestion that impedes rescue vehicles after the storm has passed.

How to Survive a Tornado in Your Car

If a tornado touches down while you’re on the road and you cannot find secure shelter, pull off the road and stay in your car. Keep your seatbelt on and duck down, keeping your head below the windshield. If you have a pillow or blanket in your car, cover yourself as best you can.

While some safety advocates suggest fleeing your car and lying in a nearby ditch, this isn’t always a safe option. Many Gulf Coast tornados involve heavy rain and even flash flooding. If you’re hunkering down in a ditch or another low-lying area, you may face an increased risk of drowning.

It’s not easy to live with the threat of tornados, but you can be prepared. Make a plan and talk about it ahead of time with your family to stay as safe as possible during a storm.

RELATED: Hurricane Preparation Tips

Car Damaged in a Tornado? Consult With a Property Damage Lawyer

Your car is your lifeline — to your job, your family, and your community. After a storm, repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle is essential. However, collecting the insurance compensation you need to protect and repair your vehicle can be a challenge. The insurance company will find any excuse to deny you coverage, and every tornado season, we see victims suffering because the insurance company is refusing to provide the fair coverage they deserve.

“It’s not easy to live with the threat of tornados, but you can be prepared. Make a plan and talk about it ahead of time with your family to stay as safe as possible during a storm.”

It shouldn’t happen, but insurance claims adjusters are notorious for exploiting loopholes in policies to deny valid requests. If you’re struggling to negotiate your claim or have it taken seriously, it’s a sign you should call a property damage lawyer. A lawyer can help you file a claim, negotiate a fair settlement, and take your case to trial if need be.

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Protecting Alabama and Mississippi Tornado Victims

At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we’re proud to call Alabama and the Gulf Coast home. We understand how impactful extreme weather is on our communities, which is why we’ve devoted our careers to protecting those harmed through no fault of their own.

If you or someone you love is suffering after a storm and struggling to receive fair compensation from the insurance company, don’t wait to call us. We are proud to help our clients negotiate settlements and get them the compensation they deserve. For a free case evaluation with one of our experienced property damage lawyers, contact us at 251-888-8888 or complete our online form.


Facts + statistics: Tornados and thunderstorms. (2019). Insurance Information Institute. Retrieved from

National Weather Service. (2018). Alabama Records a Near Normal Tornado Season in 2018 [press release]. Retrieved from

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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