Saturday, April 12, 2014

Surviving Tornados, Part Two

Last time, I wrote about how my family and I have endured not one but two close encounters with violent, destructive tornadoes. Overall, I feel very blessed. We certainly endured property loss and inconvenience, but both times we were not only completely taken care of, but walked away without a scratch. For reasons I cannot explain, many were not so fortunate. The tornado that swept through Moore Oklahoma last May was particularly heart-breaking. This footage tells the tale much better than I could here.

With all the advances in weather forecasting, the chances of surviving a major tornado are so much better than they once were. Here's what you need to know to survive:
  • Keep informed. If you live in an area where tornadoes have struck in the past, make sure you have reliable access to weather information. Severe weather outbreaks are now predicted several days in advance. Keep an eye on the weather, pay attention to media outlets, and make sure you have multiple ways to receive any warnings that are issued for your area. Weather radios and weather apps are both valuable technological resources - use them.
  • Know when and where to take shelter. The vast majority of tornadoes are survivable, even if you're directly in the path, by taking appropriate shelter. Go into the lowest level of a building, find an interior room without windows, get low to the ground, and protect your head. Of course, the absolute best place to be is underground - either in a basement, a cellar or tornado shelter.
  • Avoid vehicles, highway underpasses, mobile homes, or warehouses. Most of the time, you'd be better off outside on the ground than in one of these. In particular, people often think they can escape a tornado by car. Unfortunately, the ensuing traffic jams often end up trapping you right in the path of the storm, with no shelter available. Most of the time, you're better off staying put.
  • Take warnings seriously. In the age of the cellphone, too many people decide to run outside and take video of a tornado instead of taking shelter. Heed the warnings, protect yourself and your loved ones, and don't do anything stupid.
If you're looking for an entertaining and informative book on the topic of tornadoes and the science of severe weather warnings, I highly recommend Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather, available straight from Amazon in either print or e-book.

Finally, an a completely unrelated note, today ends my 40 Days Away from Magic. I am looking forward to diving back into my favorite hobby in the week ahead. For my next post, I'll have several updates about my plans moving forward. See you then.

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