By Andrew Greenstein


Follow CBSDFW.COM: Facebook | Twitter

The wintertime is not normally the time of year when we see tornadoes here in North Texas. So the tornado that ripped through the area the day after Christmas caught a lot of us by surprise.

By now, most of you should have smartphones that alert you to tornadoes when they come barreling toward your location.

What if that location is out on the road? December’s tornadoes killed eight people on I-30 at the Bush Turnpike.

Michele Releford with TxDOT says if you see a tornado coming towards you, you need to get off the roadway ASAP.

“You look for the first exit you can and seek shelter immediately,” says Releford.

One idea is to take shelter in a rest area. “We have 80 of them across the state, and most of them are equipped with a storm shelter of some kind, or at least provide some kind of shelter for you,” says Releford.

If there are no rest areas or off-ramps in the vicinity, Garland Emergency Management Specialist Savannah Martin says if there’s a ditch nearby, use it.

“If you’re on the road in a rural-type area and you notice your surroundings are lower than the actual road, you can pull over and actually crawl into a ditch and just duck and cover and wait for the storm to pass,” says Martin.

But KRLD Chief Meteorologist Bob Goosmann says the absolute worst place to go to is underneath a bridge.

“The winds are actually stronger under an overpass,” says Goosmann. “They get funneled under there, and debris can get carried under there.”

And Releford says during a tornado warning or a tornado watch, people need to think twice about heading out in the first place.

“Do you really need to be on the road at that time? If a bad storm is coming in, even if it’s just going to be torrential rain, do you really need to be on the road at that time?”

And, again, if you are at home and you get that tornado warning alert, it’s time to go to your designated safe room, whether it be a storm shelter or an interior room on the ground floor.

Goosmann says there’s one room in particular that works especially well.

“Bathrooms work better than other rooms,” Goosmann points out. “Why? There’s piping in those walls. It’s kind of like reinforcement in those walls.”

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)