Of all the natural disasters in the world tornadoes is the disaster that generates the highest wind speeds. A tornado is rotating storm that has a more destructive force than a hurricane but it affects a much smaller geographical area, it’s uncommon that a tornado is more than one kilometer wide.
The magnitude of a Tornado is often measured in the Fujita Scale ranging from 0 to 5. These are often referred to as an F0, F1, F2, F3, F4 and F5 with an F0 being the weakest Tornado causing only minor damage, an F5 the most powerful causing massive damage. There is also an updated version of this scale called the Enhanced Fujita Scale.
An F5 tornado can destroy even relatively strong buildings, deform a skyscraper, and pull asphalt from the roads and move vehicles and farm equipment with a weight of several tons over long distances. The damage potential is in short extreme. But much like a Tsunami a tornado can totally devastate an area only to leave structure only short distances away intact. The majority of all tornadoes take place in the Great Plain Area in the United States.
1925 The Tri State Tornado caused massive devastation when it travelled 350 kilometers through three states; bringing destruction to over 20 cities resulting in the deaths of almost 700 people.
1974 The Super Outbreak was an event when almost 150 tornadoes was record in just two days. Over people 300 died in from the tornadoes.
1989 The Daulatpur-Saturia Tornado in Bangladesh is the Deadliest tornado in history. The Tornado hit slums and other vulnerable areas killing around 1.300 people, injuring around 12.000 and leaving tens of thousands homeless.
1999 Its relatively rare that a Tornado hits a city but The Oklahoma City Tornado is one example of such an event. The tornado produced the highest wind speeds that have ever been recorded reaching almost 500km/h. The tornado killed over 30 people and destroyed several thousand homes.
2011 The Tornado that hit Joplin was one of the worst in US history. The tornado resulted in around 160 dead and injured almost 1.000 people. The tornado caused severe damage to building an even hit the St John Regional Medical Center causing damage to the structure and the loss of power.
Survival and Preparedness
A tornado can cause massive direct damage killing individuals and destroying buildings. A tornado can also result in severe secondary damage from Fire. Vital infrastructure can also be destroyed or damaged limiting the access to water, the power grid and electronic communications.
If you are confronted with a tornado immediately seek cover in the most solid protection you can find or try to avoid its path. Even if relatively few people die in tornadoes every year compared to other Natural Disasters the economical damage is enormous. Having the right insurance and an emergency budget is an important addition to other disaster preparedness efforts like having water, food, medical supplies, light and other necessities available.
Mobile homes are especially vulnerable since they can’t withstand the enormous power of a tornado. Unventilated structures can explode from the differences in air pressure that a tornado generates. Those how live in mobile homes and other light structures are very vulnerable to tornadoes since they can easily destroy these structures. For those how live in mobile homes cars often provide a better shelter since they have a lower center of gravity and are often better designed to withstand an impact if they roll over.
Cellars and Safe Rooms
The destructive power of a tornado can often destroy building and homes. In order to survive a tornado one of the most common tactics is to seek cover underground in cellars. Another form of tactic is to build a safe room within the structure. A safe room is part of the building with a strong roof and solid walls often made by concrete or steel with a strong steel door. There are many companies that also can retrofit older buildings that were not originally built with a safe room.
It’s possible to detect tornadoes using radar; from these readings it’s possible to warn people in affected areas. These warnings are often transmitted using radio. If you live in an area where tornadoes often strike being able to get this type of Early Warning can mean the difference between life and death. Many that die in tornadoes has simply been unable to receive these Early Warnings. Following the weather reports is also an important tool to get warning regarding storm and weather condition that can generate Tornadoes. Some areas also have sirens to provide warnings. Learn what how the Early Warning system in your area operates.
The visibility of a tornado can vary; during heavy rains or at very dry locations they can be hard to spot. The sound of a tornado is often very high if you are close to storm, but they can be hard to hear over long distances.
Tornadoes present a very destructive event for anyone that lives in an area where Tornadoes are common. Having a place to seek cover and knowing where shelter can be found is critical in order to avoid the potential damage from a Tornado. Learn how Early Warnings are given in your area and make sure that you can receive them.
Surviving Fires and Fire Safety