Top 5 Things to Do During a Tornado [An Oklahoman's Guide]


In my 15 years of living in Oklahoma, I've had my fair share of tornado-related experiences. As such, I have written this guide for all the entertaining activities to attempt when you find yourself under a tornado warning. Engage in these activities at your own peril...

Of course one should always take the necessary safety precautions to survive a tornado. Find the central most room in your house or apartment, stay away from windows, and be weary of anything that could become a dangerous projectile. My apartment is on the top floor with two outside walls, not necessarily the safest place to be when a tornado is less than a mile away. If in a trailer park, have an underground shelter nearby. But most importantly, NEVER get in your car or try to outrun the tornado. You are literally better off just laying in a low-lying ditch. 

3. Watch a Weather Reality Show.

Instead of watching the news to catch a glimpse of the severe weather, I often set-up a deck chair on my balcony and watch the torrential rain, gale force winds, and electrifying lightning. Watching the severe weather first hand can be an adrenaline fueled experience. Whether it is watching a garage door flying overhead hundreds of feet in the air, seeing a debris cloud off in the distance, or watching a tornado miles away from the 10th floor of a dorm building, severe weather events and tornado warnings produce numerous exciting events to watch, safely from a distance. This video is of a local Normanite driving during the tornado, the storm on video is the same one I was watching.

2. The Gary England Drinking Game.

[Gary England Weather Segment - Screengrab courtesy of Oklahoma's News 9]

Easily the most entertaining way to remain occupied during the severe weather is the Gary England drinking game. With commands to drink a corresponding amount of drinks for certain tornado related buzzwords like: Doppler, Mobile Home, Storm Chaser, etc. This game can unravel fairly quickly the more severe the weather becomes. In conjunction with the hilarity of an excited Gary England, this drinking game is the most fun you can have during a tornado warning. However, the fairly high levels of impairment and inebriation can potentially become a problem if the weather dictates the need for serious action.

1. Take a Picture with the Tornado.

[OU Student posing with a Tornado - Image courtesy of Shelby Barrow]

As an Oklahoman, I have two goals: finding a genuine Native American arrowhead and taking a picture with a tornado. The first is quite a rare feat, but I have numerous friends that have accomplished the second. The best way to go about pursuing a tornado is to tag along with a storm chaser. However, being oblivious to the current severe weather can also pay dividends. Sometimes a person might just see the tornado in the distance, pull over their car, and take a picture right on the highway. This is the highest risk activity associated with tornadoes – because it requires you to be stationary while the photo is being taken, while the tornado is rapidly moving.

Honorable Mention: Pray Away the Gray.

Although I am not religious in any sense of the word, I am sure that many of Oklahomans do not share my same outlook. Quite a huge portion of the population undoubtedly spends their time under a tornado warning praying. While this is paradoxical in nature, as it begs questions like: Who made the tornado in the first place? Are you trying to subvert or influence God’s will? Why does natural evil even exist? It nonetheless provides a plethora of entertaining internet videos of religious believers confronting powerful tornadic storms in an attempt to pray them away. Provided that you still have power and a connection to the internet, watching these hilarious videos is an entertaining way to pass the time.