Terrifying video of North Dakota tornado encounter Memorial Day


If a large, dangerous tornado were coming right at you and you had no adequate shelter, what would you do?  Oil workers in Watford City, North Dakota faced this quandary as an EF-2 tornado bore down on them Memorial Day afternoon.

Watch the frightening, close-up video:

Video taken by residents of western North Dakota as a twister touched down Monday evening. A National Weather Service team is heading to the affected area to asses the damage. (Ashleigh Joplin/The Washington Post)

 

The Weather Channel said the twister destroyed 13 trailers and damaged two more at the oil workers’ camp, injuring 9 workers:

Karen Holte, a volunteer at an American Red Cross shelter set up at Watford City’s civic center, said the tornado descended on the camp so quickly that nobody had time to take shelter.

In the video above, the awestruck workers clearly have little idea what to do.  Shouts one of the eyewitnesses: “Where do we go? We’ve got nowhere to go!” 

Mike Smith, senior vice president at AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions,  describes what he believes would have been the best course of action:

In a case like this, my recommendation would be to drive south (90°) away from the tornado that was approaching from the west. Here’s why:

* There was no tornado shelter.

* A new model pickup truck (with airbags) is safer than a mobile home. Both can roll but a pickup has no refrigerators, sofas, etc. to fall on top of you.

* It is rural area with no traffic, so a reasonable escape speed could be attained relative to the speed of the tornado.

Important note: I would not recommend fleeing in every instance. But, since I was asked what I would do in this situation, that is my suggestion.

Here are some more photos of the Watford City twister via Twitter:

 

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
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Jason Samenow · May 28, 2014