We had our annual flyball party last night and we were recapping adventures from our tournaments and some teammates remembered being literally chased out of Iowa by a tornado. As in they left the campground headed east toward home, saw some nasty clouds in the rearview, started to try to out drive it, heard the warning sirens, drove faster, and finally had to stop and pull over because it was raining so hard they couldn't see. Thankfully the tornado passed 7 miles away and they were ok.
One of our friends on another team was slightly less lucky. She was headed in the opposite direction and when the sirens started, she pulled over to a rest area to take shelter with her dog. They denied her unless she left her dog in the car, so she rode out the tornado huddled in the back of her car with her dog, praying that as she felt the wheels of her car leave the pavement that she wouldn't go far. Thankfully she never left the ground, but it started me thinking.
We travel a good amount on the edges of Tornado Alley during the summer months and we've watched many a thunderstorm race across the plains to our campsite. When we're camping, we know the dogs will be welcome in the storm shelter at the campgrounds. But what is the safest thing to do if you're driving and caught up? Obviously the rest areas are off limits. If I'm driving without dogs, I know I can pull over and get into a ditch, covering my kids with my body if necessary. I could possibly cover Havana and Pixel with my body, but not necessarily if they were freaking out. One friend has 3 dogs over 70 lbs - she couldn't cover them. Another friend has a dog who is a huge flight risk in thunderstorms - she spend 36 hours running through a marsh in Iowa thanks to some fireworks. (Iowa REALLY hates our team!) And yet another teammember is heavier set and has 3 Italian greyhounds. She was afraid she'd crush them if she lay on top of them, but that if she tried to have them on her lap, they'd be ripped out of her arms. She was in tears trying to figure out the safest thing for them.
I was thinking we could possibly huddle outside a rest area building or gas station on the leeward side to be protected from some debris, but I can tell you from experience that there is 45-60 miles of Interstate with only farm buildings a good distance from the road. (Great figuring out there are literally no gas stations for 30 miles when your "low gas" light turns on.)
So, what would you do to keep a carload of dogs safe in a tornado? We've got 4 or 5 tournaments in Iowa for this summer and there is no reason to think Iowa will stop hating us or that the weather will be less volatile.