5/21/13

Tornadoes

 


Yesterday, for the third time in fifteen years, Moore, OK was hit yet again with a devastating tornado. My heart goes out to all the families who lost loved ones in this storm. Two elementary schools were hit. At one school, everyone survived with a few minor injuries, while the other school wasn't so lucky. When tornadoes become so powerful (F4 or F5) with a wind speed of 200+ mph and a wide path, there is nothing you can do except pray to a greater being because it's out of your hands.  

Moore, Oklahoma has seen 3 major tornadoes in the last 15 years. Some areas have been rebuilt twice already. Prayers with them.
Even with the ability of storm watchers to chase the storms, track the storms, predict the damage, etc. Mother Nature still does what she wants, when she wants and how hard she wants.

One of my European friends wondered how we get tornadoes over and over again, while yet, they don't get them. Actually, Europe does get some tornadoes, but they are few and far between or cold ones that fall apart before they hit the ground to do damage.

So what happens?

Tornado season is usually March-June, but we have had them in January and October before as it all depends on what's happening in the atmosphere. Drought has hit the center of the country over the last two years, which has moved the atmospheric elements  to the north and east of us.

But now they're back.
The reason TX, OK and KS seem to attract tornadoes is due to their location in the Great Plains. Warm air is brought up from the Gulf of Mexico and mixes with the cold Jet Stream trough coming from the Colorado Rockies. When the air on the land heats up and becomes super humid, it rises. This convection mixes with the cold upper level air, forming a swirling vortex. Sometimes the vortex only peeps out of the clouds. Other times, it becomes a tornado. The strength of the tornado depends on the strength of the atmospheric conditions.

All you can do is be prepared.

Go to the lowest level of your house. Go to an inner room with no windows--closet or bathroom--flying glass is a big problem. Pad the room as much as possible and/or cover yourself with a blanket. Have a flashlight and radio with you. And wear shoes, not flip-flops, but real shoes--sneakers. Recently, they've been recommending wearing a helmet of sorts, most tornado deaths are due to head injuries.

Many new houses are built with a 'fraidy-hole' or tornado shelter. Most houses don't have basements, because of the water tables flooding them, but a storm shelter of this sort would be ideal.

There are a few FB notices calling for 'safe rooms' in schools. Instead of spending billions on football stadiums, spend some money on the safety of our children.

But as I mentioned earlier, a massive tornado will tear through anything, and the only safe place is under ground.

That said, I've lived in Oklahoma for over 45 years. I've only seen one tornado--probably because I was in my fraidy-hole--that wasn't on the news. In 1992, a tornado came through Tulsa on the night before my wedding. It wiped out a church only 1/4 mile away from the church I was married in. We didn't have electricity, but it was a beautiful wedding anyway.

Tornadoes happen, just like all acts of Mother Nature--hurricanes, floods, earthquakes. We must respect her and take precautions. That is all we can do.

Later, Peeps!

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