When NOT to run: During a tornado

30 May

As I approached the exit toward home last night, I was acutely aware of the dark sky and massive lightning bolts on the horizon. I thought, “OK, maybe it will pass and clear up in time for a run tonight.” Then, “Ohh…this looks pretty serious, maybe not.” My plans for an evening run went right out the window.

Within 20 minutes of getting home, my husband and I were getting sturdy shoes on, grabbing a couple of blankets, flashlights and water and corralling the cats in the basement in preparation for a tornado warning.

We stayed calm as things got very dark and scary outside, checking our phones for live news updates. After about 20 minutes, the worst of it had passed and we emerged from the basement safe and sound.

It turned out that TWO tornadoes hit the Capital Region of NY. One of them passed only miles from us. This one was rated EF-2 with maximum winds of 125 miles per hour, was one mile wide, and followed a 17-mile path. The other one was a little bit further South.

Here’s a little glimpse of what was going on outside:

Luckily, this was the only damage our property received. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s actually a pretty heavy branch from a giant tree right next to our driveway and it narrowly missed both of our cars.


Not very far from us there is pretty significant damage – some homes have been destroyed, power is out, trees are uprooted everywhere, and neighborhoods are flooded. It’s pretty surreal to think that such destruction occurred so close to home, in an area so far from Tornado Alley.

My heart really goes out to everyone in this area who is dealing with severe damage and I am again praying for those affected by the recent deadly tornadoes in Moore, OK and the Midwest.

So, what’s this got to do with running? When there is severe weather (read: lightning, tornadoes, high winds, hurricanes, blizzards, floods, etc etc), be smart and stay safe. Running during a tornado warning or hurricane force winds does not make you hardcore, it makes you incredibly reckless and stupid.

I remember when Hurricane Sandy came through and seeing several photos of people running despite warnings to stay indoors…

(Source: People Doing Everything but Stay Inside During Hurricane Sandy)

And we all know how that turned out.

The point is, getting that run in is not nearly as important as your physical safety. Lightning can travel and high winds can create dangerous debris. No, you can’t really outrun that storm and taking one day off will not completely negate your training – so stay inside.

If you DO get stuck running in a thunderstorm, here’s a quick guide from Run the Planet on what to do.


4 Responses to “When NOT to run: During a tornado”

  1. Mindy @ Road Runner Girl May 31, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    So glad you guys were safe! Tornadoes are scary! No run is worth risking your life!

    • Nikki May 31, 2013 at 10:53 am #

      Thanks! Luckily it was not as severe as what they get in the Midwest, but still pretty scary.

  2. Amanda May 31, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    Glad to see you guys were okay! We had a tornado warning in the eastern part of my county, and it freaked me out. I never understand the people who run when you’re explicitly instructed to stay inside during extreme weather. You’re not being warned for the government’s amusement!

    • Nikki May 31, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

      Thanks. It’s a war zone only a few miles away. So far I’ve only heard of one serious injury right where the tornado touched down. I don’t get it when people run around outside or go take goofy pictures or stand outside to get that crazy video of the severe weather. Stay inside, dummy!

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