6 Severe Weather Safety Tips For Travelers


Traveling during severe weather can be nerve-wracking and dangerous. It’s essential to prepare for thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes and other inclement weather where you’re traveling and to be aware of the environmental risks at your various destinations.

Use Travel Weather Apps

Downloading a travel-friendly weather app can provide forecasts and weather alerts for your destination and route.

Below are four of the best travel weather apps:

  • American Red Cross Emergency App: This free app is entirely free and lets you customize 40 different weather alerts and receive real-time notifications. Retrieve step-by-step guides for the particular weather event and find American Red Cross shelters with an in-app map.
  • Drive Weather: This app highlights weather conditions for your road trip route. It also includes the temperature, wind, and radar. It can adjust your forecast based on your driving speed and plan speeds to view a colorful, user-friendly map. There are free and paid versions.
  • Sitata: International travelers stand to gain the most from 24/7 notifications from global news and social media regarding flight delays, disease outbreaks, civil unrest, and transit strikes. It can also connect you with a virtual doctor when you need medical guidance and send travel updates to loved ones. Most features are free to use, including the critical travel safety news.
  • Weather Channel App: This free mobile app provides weather forecasts and travel planning tools for U.S. and international destinations. It also offers various guides to help users plan different summer or winter trips and address weather-related health symptoms.

The apps mentioned above are available for Android and iOS devices and can supplement your existing local weather app and preferred travel apps.

Pack A Weather Radio

A NOAA weather radio transmits emergency alerts near your current location. These radios are helpful at home and while traveling as they prevent coverage gaps if your phone doesn’t receive location-based weather alerts or you can’t tune into a local news broadcast.

Further, weather radios are relatively inexpensive and cost as little as $30. For example, the highly-rated Midland WR120B NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio can provide alerts for up to 60 hazards and emergencies. It monitors seven NOAA channels, can be locally programmed, and has an alarm clock. Finally, it only requires three AAA batteries.

Bring Extra Provisions

It’s wise to carry extra food, water and travel gear that make a difference in case you’re stranded or stores close. These supplies can easily squeeze into a car kit or a carry-on and you can consume the snacks once you return home or are out of harm’s way.

Extra clothing layers are vital during cold weather travel to stay warm. During hot weather, bring plenty of fluids to remain hydrated and have a shade source.

Tornado Safety Tips

The United States tornado season typically runs from March to July. The spring months are typically the most active, with frequent weather swings.

While tornadoes can happen anywhere, they are most prevalent in “Tornado Alley” in the Great Plains and Midwest. Active states include:

  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas

The Deep South states of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi are also increasingly susceptible to tornadoes and hail storms.

When traveling, enable Wireless Emergency Alerts on your cell phone for location-based warnings. Additionally, check for warnings from the National Weather Service or local media social media pages during the trip or when you see a gloomy sky.

In an active tornado threat, go to the lowest floor and avoid glass windows. For optimal safety, look for a wooden frame or cinder block construction with a small roof instead of mobile homes, RVs, or campers.

Avoid buildings with long roofs that grocery stores, discount stores, malls, and airport terminals typically have, as they are relatively weak in damaging winds. These locations should have a fortified storm shelter for such events.

If you find yourself driving during severe weather, consider pulling over and looking for rest areas or truck stops with storm shelters. Remember to avoid windows, stay low, and cover your head if you remain in the car.

Contrary to popular belief, avoid climbing to the top of highway overpasses as the wind tunnel effect intensifies in the narrow area along with being higher than ground level. Instead, remain in your vehicle or tuck into a ditch or ravine for protection and to avoid flying debris.

Hurricane Travel Safety Tips

Thankfully, modern weather forecasting technology can predict hurricanes and intense storms well in advance. Peak hurricane season is usually in the fall, although a heightened risk exists from June 1 to November 30 on the Atlantic coast and between June 15 and November 30 for the eastern Pacific.

During a hurricane or tropical storm, remain on high ground or in an upper-floor room without windows. If outside, avoid standing under or near trees, as branches and debris will inevitably fall.

When driving, turn around on flooded roads as the depth can be deeper than anticipated. It’s also advisable to only drive during daylight for optimal visibility.

You may also familiarize yourself with your hotel or resort’s storm policy and evacuation procedures.

Blizzard Travel Safety Tips

Winter storms and blizzards can also pose a risk to experienced travelers. If driving, slow down and consider getting a hotel room if the driving becomes too hazardous until the plows clear the roads and weather conditions improve.

If stuck on the road, the National Weather Service suggests only running the vehicle for 10 minutes per hour and opening a car window to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. It also recommends keeping an interior dome light on or marking your vehicle with a bright cloth for first responders to easily spot it and come to assistance.

Final Thoughts

Even with today’s advanced warning systems, severe weather can strike when you least expect it. Preparing for different travel situations can avert disaster, as you may be able to stop and let the storm pass before resuming. Utilizing life-saving apps and carrying essential supplies are well worth the investment if the unexpected happens.


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