Deadly Tornados Bring Truck Driver Safety Remindersby Jana Ritter - Published: 4/28/2014
Emergency officials and rescue crews are searching for survivors after a powerful storm system moved through the central and southern United States over the weekend, bringing multiple tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flooding. The tornados have already claimed at least 18 lives and caused extensive damage across the mid-west, with Arkansas being the hardest hit. The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management confirmed Monday that at least 14 people died in Little Rock, Ark., when a twister carved an 80-mile path of destruction through suburbs north of the state capital.
“Just looking at the damage, this may be one of the strongest that we've seen,” Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said. Beebe estimated it will take days to estimate the total amount of damage, but as of now, the primary focus is on search and rescue efforts. Brandon Morris, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, said crews were sifting through the rubble Monday in the hope of uncovering survivors and to assess the full extent of the destruction.
The Arkansas tornado touched down about 10 miles west of Little Rock at around 7 p.m. Sunday and moved northeastward for at least 30 miles, shredding cars, trucks and 18-wheelers stuck along Interstate 40. "About 30 vehicles -- large trucks, sedans, pickup trucks -- were going through there when the funnel cloud passed over," said Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the Arkansas State Police. After the storm passed, tractor-trailer rigs tried to navigate through the damage to continue their journeys. The Arkansas tornado was one of several that touched down Sunday as a large storm system moved through parts of the Plains, Midwest and South.
In Oklahoma, at least one person was confirmed dead by county sheriff's department reported that and another person died when a tornado hit Keokuk County, Iowa.
Tornadoes also touched down Sunday in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. The Missouri Highway Patrol reported a tractor-trailer was blown onto its side on Interstate 70 about 30 miles east of Kansas City but fortunately no one was injured.
As weather warning continue throughout the areas until Wednesday, the first big tornados of the season bring good reason for truck drivers to remember the following safety tips:
• A dark or green-colored sky, large, dark, low-lying cloud, hail and loud train like roar are all warnings signs of a coming tornado
• Try not to outrun the tornado and DO NOT seek shelter under overpasses.
• Get as far away from any vehicles as you can. The force of a tornado can pick up vehicles, even your 18-wheeler, and you don't want to be anywhere near that.
• Stay away from trees, as tornadoes are powerful enough to uproot them as well. Find a gully, ditch or low spot in the ground and lie flat with your head protected by an object or just your arms if you can't find an object to use.
The best thing is to avoid being on the road all together but if that isn’t an option, be prepared. Know the weather for the cities you’ll be driving through that day and if the forecast is looking bleak, have a bag packed with water, non-perishable food and any medication you might need.