Weather expert lectures on tornado safety at LMCPublished 8:00am Tuesday, April 13, 2010
By BRETT PHILLIPS
Niles Daily Star
As spring is coming into full bloom, the weather seems to be getting better by the day.
However, springtime also brings about an increase in the chance of tornadoes.
Timm Pschigoda, a former biology and chemistry teacher at St. Joseph High School, conducts a lecture every year at Lake Michigan College to the public about the origins and dangers of severe weather.
“I do this every spring because it’s the beginning of the tornado season,” Pschigoda said.
This lecture at LMC Bertrand Campus was very timely due to the severe windstorm that ravaged Dowagiac last Monday.
According to Pschigoda, this information definitely applies to anyone living in southwestern Michigan.
“Don’t let people tell you there aren’t tornadoes in our area,” he said. “Fortunately for us, they just aren’t very common.”
Aside from describing the weather patterns that cause severe weather, such as tornadoes, Pschigoda also listed off some common myths about tornadoes that are false.
For instance, the myth that a bathtub is the safest place to be during a tornado was simply a joke by Ted Fujita, a meteorologist and an old friend of Pschigoda’s. This was due to the fact that metal bathtubs from older houses were sometimes the only things left in a home after a very severe tornado.
There is also a myth that people should open all of their windows during a tornado.
While this myth is false, Pschigoda advised against it for several other reasons.
“Don’t take the time to open all your windows during a tornado,” he said.
He also mentioned that having open windows would result in large amounts of water in the home after the storm has passed.
In addition, the belief by some that underneath a bridge is the safest place to be while outdoors during a tornado is entirely untrue. In fact, it may be the most dangerous place.
According to Pschigoda, a ditch is the safest place to be while outside. When it comes to tornado safety, Pschigoda has very simple advice. He advises not only to go to a basement, but also to “get in the smallest area you can in the basement. Maybe a bathroom or under a stairwell.”
Finally, Pschigoda discussed the belief by some that Lake Michigan keeps locals safe from tornadoes. However, that is also only a myth.
Although our area may not be in as much danger from tornadoes as some other places in the country, it appears residents of southwestern Michigan still need to have the knowledge of how to stay safe from them.