Tornado tips may seem counterintuitive, but could save lives: meteorologist

In the wake of a deadly tornado in the Virden, Man., area that killed two 18-year-olds on Friday, an Environment Canada meteorologist is urging the public to learn about tornado safety.

Dan Kulak told 680 CJOB if you see a tornado, you should try to get away from it if possible — but if you can’t outrun it, get out of your car, even if that seems like an odd choice.

“It’s counterintuitive, but the advice is to get out of your vehicle, get as far away from the vehicle as you possibly can and try to lie in a low spot,” he said.

“Grab onto anything you can. If you can get into a ditch, a low depression, try to get there to avoid any of the flying debris that may be in your area.”

Kulak said this advice runs counter to what you’re told to do during a thunderstorm — so you have to use your judgment.

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“In a typical thunderstorm, your vehicle is probably going to be good,” he said.

“In a severe event — especially in a traumatic event — you just have to imagine yourself in that vehicle and you want to not be a marble inside a tin can.”

Read more: Two dead following tornado in Western Manitoba

Environment Canada said the tornado hit just before 8 p.m. on Friday in Scarth, Man., about 13 kilometres south of Virden. It brought wind speeds of about 190 km/h, the agency said.

Among other damage caused by the twister, two vehicles were swept up and tossed into a field.

The driver of one vehicle, a 54-year-old man from Sioux Valley Dakota First Nation, was taken to hospital in serious, but non-life-threatening condition.

Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury from Melita, Man., were killed after a tornado struck near Virden on Friday.
Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury from Melita, Man., were killed after a tornado struck near Virden on Friday. Courtesy photo

Two 18-year-olds from Melita, Man., were in the other vehicle and were pronounced dead at the scene. Police said they believe Carter Tilbury and Shayna Barnesky were ejected from a truck during the storm.

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Melita mayor Bill Holden told Global News on the weekend the entire town of 1,000 is mourning the loss of the two.

“It’s not a good time for the town. I can tell you that right now,” Holden said.

“It’s bad enough when you lose two young people like this anywhere but when you lose a couple like this in a small community, everybody is impacted.”

Manitoba community mourns 2 teens killed in tornado

Manitoba community mourns 2 teens killed in tornado

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