The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
-Psalm 19:1

Do you know that God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?
-Job 37:15

Friday, February 27, 2009

Tornado history, and trying to escape the risk

I had a comment from Kathy in Oklahoma, who said that she would like to live somewhere where there are no tornadoes. I sort of laughed at that since I know that there is not one state in the United States that hasn't had a tornado. In fact, this morning, I learned that on February 11 this year, there was a destructive tornado in Hawaii. It got me to thinking I should do a post about tornadoes... (like I haven't been doing that already, right?) The graphic above is linked to the Tornado Project website, which is a site dedicated to compiling historic data about tornadoes in the US and Worldwide.

Tornadoes have occurred in every state.~
Actually tornadoes have also occurred on every continent, except Antarctica; however, the United States has the highest tornado incidence of any country, quadrupling Europe's total.~ Yesterday, I posted the fujita scale. The rating determination is based on the level of damage with regard to the quality of structure. As far as the data goes, if a tornado occurs, and no one sees it, and it didn't cause any damage, it does not get recorded (if a tornado happens on open ground, and no one's around to see it, did it really happen???) The doppler, as it is, does not give an image to the ground, which is why storm chasers and spotters are instrumental in letting the National Weather Service know what is actually occurring on the ground. In the Enhanced Fujita scale, the rating system for tornadoes, the highest and most powerful rating is an EF5. Prior to that, it was an F5, enhanced by the quality of structure analysis built into the rating system. Since 1950, there have been 52 F5/EF5 tornadoes, including the Parkersburg, IA tornado last year, which devastated over half the city. An EF5 is described as causing total destruction. It is a catastrophic tornado.

The deadliest tornado was the Tri-State tornado on March 18, 1925, which took the lives of 695 people. Fortunately, warning systems and weather forecasting technology have improved greatly, and many lives have been spared. In Parkersburg, IA, only 7 perished, which is amazing.

One very interesting tornado story to me in one (well two) that struck in Gainesville, GA, on April 6, 1936, earning the 5th position on the deadliest tornado list, stealing the lives of 203 (with 40 still unaccounted for...)
A massive pair of tornadoes moved east-northeast through downtown Gainesville, Georgia, at the start of the work day... after a smaller tornado hit north of town. The course of one of the funnels led into the city from the southwest, just west of the Atlanta highway. The other came in from the west along the Dawsonville highway. These two paths came together west of Grove Street, and a four-block-wide area was laid waste across the entire city, beyond which separate courses of destruction appeared again. The wreckage was astounding, with debris filling the streets up to 10 feet deep. About 750 houses were destroyed and 254 were badly damaged. Damage totalled $12,500,000. The largest death toll in a single building for any US tornado occurred at the Cooper Pants Factory. The multi-story building, crowded with young workers, collapsed and caught fire, killing about 70 people. At the Pacolet Mill, the funnel was seen in the southwest, and the 550 workers ran to the northeast corner of the building, thus averting an even greater tragedy. The wreckage was so deep and swept by fires that it was not possible to determine how many people were killed in which buildings. At the time that the 203 person death toll was listed, 40 persons were still missing. ~source
The tornadoes actually collided in an explosion of catastrophe and then continued in opposite directions, continuing to wreak havoc...

The largest outbreak occurred on April 3-4, 1974 (Yikes, the first week in April... I think I know what Mike was talking about when he said that April 4 is a bad storm day!). The SUPER TORNADO OUTBREAK of 1974 was the largest outbreak of tornadoes in a single severe weather event. A total of 148 tornadoes touched in 13 states, including one in Canada. As many as 16 tornadoes were on the ground at once during this phenomenal deadly outbreak, which stole the lives of 330 and injured 5,484 people. Six of those tornadoes were rated with an F5 intensity, and twenty-four of them were F4 tornadoes. 48 of those tornadoes were deadly. Amazing.

Back to my point though, Kathy is going to be hard pressed to find a place to live where there are no tornadoes. Granted, she is not doing too well with that objective living in Oklahoma, which is conveniently located in tornado alley. I will cover current weather in a separate post. We are expecting some absolute CRAZINESS!

Have a blessed day.


  1. I know Michigan gets Tornadoes but it is very rare that we get them here in the U.P.
    we get more straight line winds

  2. I understand. Same down my way... this specific area supposedly has a 23% lower incidence than my surrounding area. The Dewzone.


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