Last Call- Injection is Nice and I WOULD NOT Rather be Blown Edition

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The tornado that hit Moore Oklahoma on Monday possessed the kind of destructive force usually only found in the safety of mindless summer blockbusters. Officially ranked an EF5 – and packing winds in excess of 200 miles per hour, the twister took lives and rearranged topography. It also destroyed billions in property- including a 1968 Corvette Sting Ray owned by Billy McElrath of Oklahoma City, who had only recently received the car as a birthday gift from his wife.

The image above is not from Monday’s twister but is one of the most jaw-dropping examples of such a storm’s power – a gnarled piece of wood driven through a concrete street curb. This is the kind of immutable force that one never wants to mess with, but which some folks face with alarming regularity. Being a West-coaster myself, I’ll stick with an occasional ground rumble rather than the sky itself trying to beat the snot out of everything in sight. 

One of the things that we all can do now is everything we can to help the survivors rebuild their lives. To help do so, you can make a donation to the American Red Cross’ Disaster Relief Fund, or – even easier – you can send a $10 donation to the Disaster Relief Fund by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999. The donation will show up on your wireless bill and you need to be 18 or older, or have parental permission, to donate this way.  If you change your mind, (why would you?) text the word STOP to 90999.

Image: Wunderground

24 Comments

        1. The mayor of Moore is talking about getting their city council to vote to require tornado shelters (like under-garage shelters) in all new home construction. These would work even in an EF5 where the slab is wiped clean. He commented that he already had the votes to pass it.
          Storms bring surge of interest in home shelters http://www.wfaa.com/news/weather/Storms-brings-su
          ArmourGuad (the company mentioned in the WFAA story) http://www.armourguardshelters.com/index.html
          Basements (which are rare in this part of the country) do no good, since houses have collapsed into basements during tornadoes

          1. Wait… are you telling me people build houses in an extremely tornado-prone region — like, say, one called tornado alley — that do not have any kind of tornado shelter at all? I mean, if you're living in a mobile home (in tornado alley? really?) I can understand that, but the trailer park is going to have a large tornado shelter to temporarily protect all the residents, right?
            Right?

          2. Well…as someone who lives in tornado alley (and recently lived less than 20mi from where this one struck) the idea that being in tornado alley does not necessarily mean that you will ever face the direct destruction of such an event even if you live there your whole life. Tornadoes are unique in that while their destruction is in many cases severe (and in rare cases such as this F5 the destruction is complete) the area destroyed by one is relatively small. Unlike other natural disasters that affect a large area such as earthquakes or hurricanes, tornadoes will touch down and destroy everything in a line and then pick back up again, and with the odds of being hit by even a moderately powerful tornado being very small most residents are willing to play the odds game against such a disaster. I've lived in Oklahoma all my life, during which I've lived in 3 houses and visited countless more of my friends, and storm shelters or strongrooms are rare simply due to the very high cost and low likelihood of it ever happening to any given individual unfortunately.

          3. I've lived in north-central Texas most of my life, save for about a dozen years, and having grown up with them, if you're at all intelligent, you have a place picked out to ride one out, should one hit your 'hood.
            I've also lived where there are 4' in 24 hour blizzards, earthquakes, and went through a class 2 hurricane in a motorocoach.
            Blizzard is the only one I'd pick over tornado, mainly because it means you stay home for a while…though moving all that stuff is a chore.
            I will say, when we were house-shopping in Fort Worth a few years ago, I kept in mind, and looked for, relatively safe places in the houses which were not designed specifically for storm shelter duty.
            As many interior walls as possible between you and the outside, preferably not another floor above you, and small (yet large enough for my wife and I, a few external hard drives, the cat, and whatever else we can't 'afford' to lose).
            We have two places in the current house, one under-stair storage area which is very much on the interior, and the guest bath, which is also 'inside', yet has a tub (though there are pinball machines directly above it, so that's potentially bad).
            I have had a basement, in Colorado, and honestly, I loved. However, it was a walkout, and was also where the huge two-car garage was, so that house was different than most, anyway.
            One of the truly odd things about tornadoes is the damage. You can see a neighbourhood afterward which has destroyed house, destroyed house, house missing a roof, untouched house…but there is a Chevy Silverado sitting in the tree out front…destroyed house, three untouched houses, then more random damage.
            It's odd to see, first-hand.
            I've seen only one tornado, myself, and it was probably about a mile away. That was more than close enough.
            Pro tip: Green and purple clouds are bad…and a tip-off is street lights coming on at 3 PM because it really is that dark.
            edit: We've had two storms spawn tornadoes within about 6 miles of us twice in the last two years. I've since investigated in-ground shelters, but that's at least a $15K cost. Ideally, you'd want one at the centre of your house, below the foundation, but that can realistically be done before the foundation is laid.

          4. Yes. Unobtanium is correct that the damage is very focused and random. Years ago, one hit near where i was working. There was an apartment complex of about 13 roughly identical buildings. 2 buildings were total losses, one more needed a roof, an the rest were relatively untouched. In a parking lot full of vehicles, a Chevy Trailblazer got flipped over, everything else was fine.

          5. Deartháir said: but the trailer park is going to have a large tornado shelter to temporarily protect all the residents, right?.
            Maybe…maybe not.
            There is a Texas rest area out on US 287, two, actually, one eastbound, one westbound, which have tornado shelters, though they're near Weather Hell on Earth, A.K.A. Wichita Falls.
            During our motorcoach travels, we stayed at only one place which had purpose-built shelters, that was down in Austin.

  1. One of the pictures from Moore I saw this week was a house that had an early '70s round taillight Camaro and a C4 Corvette in the driveway, both blasted by flying debris.

  2. I went to Joplin to volunteer a few weeks after the tornados hit. You just cannot imagine the destruction a tornado can bring: cars wrapped around telephone poles, houses razed to the ground, wood splinters embedded in concrete . . . please consider helping out the folks in Moore.

  3. Terrible devastation and loss from that tornado.
    However, that image looks to be of an asphalt curb, and the wood went in thin end first, which greatly lessens the force needed for penetration. Fun fact: nuclear power plant concrete containments were supposed to be engineered to withstand the force of a telephone pole being driven by 100 mph winds and striking end on. When the numbers were run, and the needed concrete shell and steel reinforcing calculated, that standard was reduced to a 4×4 fence post in something like a 70 mph wind.

    1. Nope, looks like wood embedded in concrete to me. Streets are generally all concrete in this part of the country, especially streets put in during the last 40-50 years.

  4. Here in tornado alley such sights are unfortunately too common. Some friends lost their home to a tornado a few years ago. I went to help with the clean up and observe the house next door had several 2x4s shot through an exterior wall, so it looked a bit like a porcupine. Amongst many dramatic scenes that day was an Econoline van stuck in a tree.

  5. A friend of mine that lives nearby is building a tornado room onto his house, with eight-inch-thick concrete walls and vaulted roof, loaded with rebar, and concrete piers going down to bedrock. It'll have siding and a composition roof on the outside, so it will like just another room from the outside. He's building the interior forms now (3/4" plywood, bolted to the exterior forms with 1/2" all-thread), and the roof and walls will be a single pour.

  6. Ill take a 7.5 earthquake over a 5.0 tornado any day of the week. If nothing else, you don't have to go looking for your stuff in another state when its over, and its over a hell of a lot quicker.

    1. However, with the earthquake, you can't see coming, and you can't escape it, either. At least tornadoes are fairly localized, and you can 'see' them coming.
      I've been through both, two quakes but born-and-raised in tornado alley, and I'll take 'nado over quake.
      What I'm quite happy to see is how good both television and online-accessible weather radar has become. If you live around here, D/FW, OK, KS, for any length of time, and have at least an inkling of self-preservation, you get semi-decent at storm examination.

      1. While I can't speak to the tornado having never experienced one, I am a native Californian. The vast majority of them do little to no damage . I've been through a dozen or so, and while they do raise your heart rate, they are actually kind of fun.

  7. This is the same way I view tornadoes.
    All depends on what you grow up around….
    I will admit, driving during the one quake had me a bit flummoxed, as there was no wind nor any grooved pavement making our 26K lb. motorcoach do what it was doing, strange wandering about in the lane, for about 20 seconds on a very empty stretch of 99.
    A phone call about 15 seconds after it was over let me know what it was, otherwise, I'd have never had a clue.

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