Business Travel During Tornado Season

Business travelers: Do you know what to do if you’re on the road or in business lodging when tornado sirens go off? Developing some emergency weather know-how ahead of time can help you protect yourself and your workforce travelers.

While Tornado Alley typically is considered the central U.S. region, tornadoes can and do occur in almost any state. May and June are considered the height of the tornado season but tornadoes may pop up at any time of year.

Smart business travelers make it a standard practice during peak tornado season to check out weather warnings and watches. The brief amount of time required to make these checks can make the difference between being caught in tornado-level winds and being safe in a secure shelter.

Experienced travelers who have been through tornado warnings and watches many times may think they’ve developed a sense about when a tornado is possible. After all, there is a certain bruised look to a tornado-ready sky and the atmosphere typically is humid and oppressive.

But to ensure severe weather preparedness, every traveler should take a minute to check out the news and review the forecast, go to weather sites online or look for smart phone apps that show the weather at a glance.

It also is smart to get in the habit of monitoring severe weather advisories. The NOAA’s National Weather Service Office of Climate, Water and Weather Services offers a variety of severe weather sites.

Just as companies rely on experts for business lodging savings, business travelers should look to several expert resources to stay informed about significant weather patterns ahead.

Here are other important pointers to help you stay safe:

At a hotel or motel:
• Ask at check-in about the procedure if there’s a tornado warning.
• When necessary, don’t delay in going to the pre-designated shelter area.
• If there’s no basement or designated safe area, interior hallways and rooms on the lowest floor usually are considered as the best protection areas.
• Stay away from windows and outside walls.
• Don’t take shelter in areas under free-spanning roofs that aren’t supported by interior columns or pillars.

On the road:
• Don’t ignore the signs – tune in to weather alerts if skies look threatening and if it’s humid, windy and hot.
• If conditions appear right for a tornado, do not drive.
• Do not try to out-drive severe weather. Tornadoes often change direction.
• Take shelter in a sturdy building, preferably where you can move to the basement level. Move away from windows.
• If there’s no shelter, park – but not in a traffic lane. Stay in your car with your seat belt fastened. If debris is blowing by, keep your head below window level and covered, if possible.
• Stay away from trees and cars that can become flying debris.
• Avoid highway overpasses – despite popular myth, they aren’t safe refuge. Wind moving through them actually may increase in speed.
• If it’s possible to get lower than the level of the roadway, take shelter in a low-lying area but be aware it may flood.