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Thoughts about a storm…

May 24, 2013
tornado 3

tough to see

Hey Y’all

I would like to throw out some thoughts about the tornado that whipped out Moore OK and Joplin MO. And compare that damage to those who were in the impact zone of Hurricane Sandy. A tornado and a hurricane are two different weather phenomena that can result in tremendous amount of damage to human life and civilization. My goal is not to minimize either storm or those who are affected by these storms. All of the photos are from yahoo.

My goal is to simply put a face on the storms and help give some context to those who have lived through these events. Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Caribbean and the East Coast of the United States in October 2012. It became a tropical storm on 22 October and a Category 1 hurricane two days later. It made its final landfall on 29 October in New Jersey. The residents of the North East United States had at a maximum seven day notice before the storm arrived. In reality, the projections started becoming accurate within three days.

 

tornado 5

the storm surge causes the majority of damage.

 

If I have three days to prepare for something, I feel pretty good about what can be accomplished. Plywood on the windows, gather all the valuables and store them. Finally gather the most prized possessions, throw them in the van and drive out of the impact zone. Not a huge deal, but a big disruption of life. There was no reason that anyone wasn’t prepared, but many were not. In New York 48 people lost their lives, another 12 in New Jersey and a total of 72 in the North East. No one should have died, but it happens. Full Disclosure, one of the things I would love to do is to ride out a hurricane. To feel the wrath of Mother Nature would be a thrill. Sick I know, but I would never put my family in danger. This is one of those things that I think would be an adventure but in reality it would be really dumb.

 

tornado 7

This would be my stupid butt. Waiting to get swept out to sea by a large wave.

 

Hurricane Sandy caused 72 Billion in damage. 24 states were affected, in New York alone, 100,000 homes were damaged and 2,000 were destroyed. Mostly from water damage, not from the wind. Researching the damage from Sandy, the most cited statistic is the number of customers who lost power. For most of us, losing power is not life threating. It is a big inconvenience, but not a crisis. Last summer, my family lost power for nine days because of a wind storm. Luckily for my family, we had several friends and extended family that too us in. It would be tougher when everyone is out of power, hence the need to leave the area and escape the after effect of the storm.

 

tornado 6

More water damage.

 

Moore Oklahoma is a different story. The tornado that attacked the town dropped out of the sky, it did its damage, and it dissipated. A tornado is so fast acting, it never gets a name. But this one will be forever known as the tornado of 2013. It was on the ground for forty minutes, traveling seventeen miles moving at about 25 miles an hour. The people of Moore had at most sixteen minute warning. If I think about that, what am I going to do with those sixteen minutes? Drive to my kids school, get them out and go somewhere else. No, it takes us fifteen minutes to drive to their school, now add one hundred other scared parents to the mix. That is not an option. Am I going to drive away from the storm? Maybe, but which way would you go? There are storms in every direction, which is the right one? I don’t know, and I have professional level training in meteorology, I have good weather radar on my phone and I believe there is no way to determine the safe path.

 

tornado 1

widespread radar picture of the storms. No where to run.

 

Assume for a moment that you are a resident of Oklahoma, and you have lived with the threat of tornados your entire life. It is quite possible that you have been directly in the path of one, you have seen them up close and personal. This is not your first rodeo. You do what you always do, go to the storm shelter and wait it out. When I was young, seven or eight, in Little Rock, AR I was in a tornado. I remember standing at the back glass door watching the leaves swirl around in the back yard. It was cool, I called for mom to look. Just before she got to the door, I looked up and saw the funnel cloud passing directly over the top of the house. The trash, wood and other debris were spinning literally fifty feet above the house. Mom grabbed me with one arm and took me to the center hallway, and it was over that fast. One house was badly damaged a street over. We lost a few shingles, I got a memory and my mom lost a couple of heartbeats.

 

tornado

Great illustration of the randomness. One house is standing, next door is rubble.

 

The scary thing about a tornado is how random it can be. Not only can it affect a town, it affects a neighborhood, and it can leave one house intact while destroying the house next door. There is no rhyme or reason to a tornado. They happen, destroy and leave. The similarities between Moore OK, and Joplin MO are striking. Two years ago Joplin suffered the same fate as Moore. Totally destroyed. The only difference between the two was the loss of life. In Moore, only 24 people died. That is amazing when you consider that the city has 56,000 residents, and 13,000 homes were destroyed at 3PM when everyone is out and the tornado struck.

 

tornado 2

The pictures from Joplin are just as graphic and heartbreaking.

 

Joplin is almost identical to Moore is size and population. Their storm stuck at 5:30PM and they had 161 people killed and another 900 injured. The city was also nearly destroyed. I am amazed that the loss of life was so low in both cities. Any life lost is too high, but when you see the pictures and compare the devastation to the numbers, I can’t believe that anyone could survive. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who is affected by these events. There are other events that are just as tragic and heartbreaking, earthquakes, forest fires, tsunamis, flash floods and all other types of natural disasters are just as devastating and unfortunately a part of life.

 

tornado 4

This is the worst place to be in a tornado.

 

Everyday is a blessing and I hope that we all enjoy the time that we have before a life crisis finds us. Until then, keep on rockin!

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From → life

9 Comments
  1. The closest to this kind of fear I ever felt was having to vacate my home when a wild fire crept too near. Had time to grab a few photo albums, but other than that, knowing my family was safe was all I needed. The rest was incidental. I can’t even imagine the tragedy faced by families recently. It’s truly heart-breaking.

  2. You have it exactly right Julie. You grab the most important things, the kids, the animals and the pictures. Everything else in my house is made in China and can be replaced. It is heart-breaking and humbling because we all live in a area that has something. Forest fire, floods, sink-holes, hurricanes, volcanos, tidal waves. It doesn’t matter when the environment decides to prove her power, all you can do is hope to survive.

  3. Living in Texas you do get kinda used to dealing with the threat of tornados. They’re part of life. I can’t imagine knowing it was headed towards my kid’s school. I think earthquakes are the most terrifying natural disaster cause at this point we have zero warning. At least you have to have clouds for a tornado.
    Rob, for the record, riding out a hurricane would be awesome. 🙂 About the only natural disaster I would agree to ride out. 🙂
    Thanks for your thoughts and perspective!

    • Great point about the earthquakes and there is no where to hide, unless you can get into a airplane or helicopter. I have not been in one but I did feel a tremor once, that was very weird. I certainly hope that neither you or I have a chance to shake, rattle and roll.

      I will save a place on the ledge next to me when the next hurricane blows by.

      • Sweet! 🙂 I’ll be there!

        I spent some time in California and have family and friends there still, so I have been in a few earthquakes. I’d rather have the tornado. 🙂

  4. You bring up a stark analysis of how humans contend with an angry Mother Nature, robakers. Indeed, cataclysms like Sandy differ greatly from tornadoes in how they confront humans. As one of your photos depict (the one of people braving the shore), there will be those that perish. And as you point out, people did have ample notice for Sandy…even Katrina. What are we to do? Certainly not much can be done, though, when Mother Nature reaches down from the sky… Interesting post indeed.

    • It is humbling to think how advanced we are, then we compare those advances to nature. This is one of the reasons that I don’t buy into global warming/global cooling. I think we are insignificant at best.

      Don’t get me wrong, we can mess some things up. But I don’t think that just by breathing we can change the temperature of the world. Thanks as always for your support!

  5. Karlene permalink

    Rob, I think randomness is a challenge for most pilots. We are always striving to be prepared for whatever may happen. I was keeping tuned via CNN during my travels. The best thing I heard was a man said, “This happened before. We rebuilt and survived. We’ll be stronger than ever.”
    Thanks for a great post!

    • Were you watching the international version of CNN? I suspect you were because I would be surprised that a positive, self-confident comment would ever come from any of the American Media.

      I wonder how other pilots feel about random chance? I don’t necessarily believe in luck, but I do believe that when hard work meets opportunity that good things always happen. Lazy people believe in dumb, blind, luck.

      As far as bad things go, I think we sometimes put ourselves in harms way and then something unfortunate will happen to someone. For example, what is the best way to keep an airplane from landing on your house? Don’t live next to an airport.

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