Taking Action: What you need to know to stay safe on the road during severe weather

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The threat for severe weather in the Tennessee Valley comes at a time many people are making those last-minute Christmas preparations.  Whether you'll be out shopping, or on the road traveling to spend the holiday with friends and family, you need to have a plan for staying abreast of weather conditions and how you will keep yourself and your family safe.

Aside from a mobile home, one of the worst places you can be in a tornado is in your car.  Just ask Gary and Susan Whaley.  Two years ago, they rode out an EF-4 tornado in their SUV, and are lucky to be alive.

"The last thing I remember, when it pulled me out of the car. That's it. I don't remember anything after that," said Gary Whaley.

Even a medium strength EFf-3 tornado can roll cars around like toys. EF-5 tornadoes have been known to rip vehicles apart. So what if you're caught in your car as a tornado approaches? If you can't drive away, running for cover might be your best option.

"The best thing to do is get out and into a building. Any building is safer than in your vehicle," said Limestone County EMA Director Rita White.

If driving away seems like the best option, remember, tornadoes can move in excess of 60 miles an hour. So trying to outrun one is usually not a good idea.  Try to drive in left or right angles away from the path of the storm.

"If you can get over into a ditch, get out of the car and get into that ditch and cover your head with whatever you have available," said White.

If you cannot get out of your car for some reason, hunker down.  Get your head and body down below the windows, cover your head, and pray.

If you're going to be traveling, know in advance how you're going to keep ahead of changing weather conditions, and be prepared to act fast if a warning is issued where you are.