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Ask Andrew: Sheltering from a tornado while living in a mobile home

Meteorologist Andrew Stutzke explains why sheltering inside a mobile home during a tornado is not the best option.

MOLINE, Ill. — We're just now entering the peak of our severe weather season here in the Quad Cities and this week's question is a good reminder of why we need to treat mobile homes differently when it comes to shelter from severe weather. 

Sherlene S. from Trenton, Iowa asks, "If we live in a trailer, where do we shelter from a tornado?". 

According to NOAA, deaths in mobile homes account for nearly 40% of all tornado-related deaths in the United States. These structures are unique in that they are not designed to withstand the force of straight-line winds, common in severe storms, let alone a violent tornado. 

The safest place to be during any severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings is in the basement or a storm cellar. However, not all of us have the luxury of these facilities at our disposal. So, what should you do in these varying scenarios? Let's dive in. 

Mobile Home/Trailer

These structures should NOT be used for shelter. It's important that you leave the mobile home immediately when it is safe to do so, well in advance of any life-threatening weather, and find substantial shelter elsewhere. A friend's, or family member's home is a good alternative, especially if they have a basement or interior room. These structures can better withstand the damaging winds and other elements severe storms often bring. 

Credit: WQAD

Severe weather forecasting has really improved dramatically, just in the last decade. If you find yourself in an area that has a heightened risk for severe storms on a particular day, it's best to plan well in advance and consider leaving before storms arrive and pose a threat. 

Credit: WQAD

As a last resort, if you find yourself unable to find more significant shelter and life-threatening weather is on the way, it's best to abandon the mobile home in favor of shelter in a ditch, culvert, or another low-lying area with your head covered. 

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