I covered some of this in my previous blog on last Sundays tornado outbreak. A sad mix of meteorology, terrain, topography, poverty and lax rules make many in the South extra vulnerable to tornadoes.
The number or tornadoes, violent tornadoes, and tornado related deaths and injuries varies every year and decade. We have actually been in a relative tornado “drought” in recent years and thus naturally the number of deaths and injuries has been way down. Just last year we were on pace for the fewest twister deaths since 1875.
2018 was the first year since 1950 without an EF-4 or EF-5 tornado and continued the down trend in U.S. tornado occurrence since 2011.
Cooler Springs than in the past over a large portion of the nation have a lot to do with that, since it’s heat energy responsible for much of the instability that leads to severe weather.
Much more accurate weather forecasting and detection/warning has contributed greatly to fewer deaths and better public safety.
In the South unlike the Plains and Midwest trees and hills often obscure the twister until it’s right on top of you, also our tornadoes are often “rain-wrapped” which hides them, and many occur at night hidden by the dark.
Mobile homes or “manufactured homes” are NOT SAFE from tornadoes OR severe strait-line winds. They do not provide shelter no matter how nice they may be. You can not BE in a safe spot in the bathroom, bathtub, the closet, or a cubby-hole in a mobile home. They are unsafe from a tornado and so like a vehicle, they must be abandoned for a more substantial structure or designated storm cellar.
The Southern U.S. has an outsized number of mobile homes and trailer parks adding to population risk from a tornado. Most do not have a tornado cellar or designated safe shelter building, economics and lack of legal requirements are the reasons.
Also some people somehow don’t get the forecast or the warnings, or when they do they don’t know the right thing to do or where to go.
Is Georgia @GovKemp better prepared than Alabama or any other state? I doubt it!
Since we in Georgia are in “Dixie Alley” the ‘Tornado Alley’ of the South this is important, especially since some research shows tornado frequency may be growing East from it’s traditional location in the Great Plains:
Unless people are prepared IN ADVANCE, know what to do, know the forecast, understand watches and warnings, can and do take the right action then it’s just a matter of luck.
Waiting to see the tornado, or get “confirmation” from friends/neighbors/relatives, or Twitter or Facebook can get you killed. So can opening the garage or front door to look and listen for it like so many dumb people do during a tornado warning.
Here is a great forecaster twitter discussion on the topic:
Even regular houses are vulnerable especially if they are frame with little or no brick. (Three little pigs story).
The safest place to be in a tornado is BELOW GROUND. Most “basements” here in the South are NOT really below ground, they are walk-in or on the same level as the ground...having floors above does not make it a true basement, but it’s still the best place to go.
Tornadoes do not dig down below ground, it’s the debris in the wind above ground that kills or injures. Most deaths are from head injuries which is why a sturdy helmet should be worn during a tornado threat.
The safety advice has been the same for decades, I recommend you google it and memorize it. Have a tornado emergency safe-kit and make sure the whole family knows all of this before it is needed.
Last Sunday included an almost 70 mile long track path of an EF3/4 tornado:
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