Only way to avoid destruction is to move from Tornado Alley
An alley tends to signify unwanted happenings. Tornado Alley brings forth visions of death and damage from that unwanted funnel cloud moving across the fields as it destroys homes, buildings and takes innocent lives. Every year weather statisticians count up the number killed and estimate the cost for Americans to start over.
More tornadoes occur in the United States than any other country. More than 1,000 tornadoes develop in our country every year. And every year we’d like to find ways to decrease death and destruction but we never seem to win against Mother Nature.
Our United States has mountain chains in the West called the Rockies and in the East known as the Appalachians. In between we have a flat United States, where tornadoes are born and grow. The Great Plains are the flat lands and consist of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska. This area grows our corn, wheat, barley and other foods. Unfortunately, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana have a sinister name: Tornado Alley.
May 20 a hideous tornado wrecked havoc in Moore, Okla. Seven children died while seeking refuge in schools as the town was ravaged, killing a total of 24. The National Weather Service has a new system for measuring tornadoes called the Enhanced Fujita Score that gives a more accurate wind speed of tornadoes. Since 1950, there have been 58 confirmed tornadoes including eight since Feb. 1, 2002, in the United States.
An F5 tornado has winds of 261 to 318 mph. Nothing withstands its strength. An F4 has winds of 202 to 260 mph, enough wind power to throw a car 300 yards. Even an F3 with winds of 158 to 206 mph could turn a locomotive on its side. An F2 with winds of 113 to 157 mph could uplift a large tree.
A tornado is a rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm down to the ground. To develop a tornado requires moist air from the Gulf of Mexico that interacts with cool dry air from Canada. Tornadoes develop in the Southern States from March through May and in the Northern states during the summer.
Mother Nature has shown that lightning contradicts myths and can strike the same place twice, and tornadoes do the same. On May 3, 1999, 44 people were killed when a tornado struck Moore, Okla. Another tornado hit Moore in 2003 and, again, on May 20, 2013.
Something must be done beyond shrugging our shoulders that appeases Mother Nature until she decides to send us another dark, black cloud of fear. The choices to prevent another tornado are terrible. We should have better warning systems that a tornado is possible. There was only a 16 minute warning on May 20th.
Whether a tornado actually develops or becomes a false warning, is not important. A false alert is something worth paying attention to like the air raid warnings during World War II.
The other option is more involved. A family could pack up and move out of Tornado Alley. This would bring safety but relocating is complicated and expensive. The advantage of relocating is removal of fear of death and injury from tornadoes. It seems that the National Weather Service does not have any new hope for those in fear of tornadoes, especially when there is little warning that a tornado is com- ing. The cost of making a home or school tornado safe is prohibitive. Even though only 1 percent of tornadoes reach the F5 stage as happened on May 20, no one should wait to find out about the frightening power of a tornado that’s coming.
As events are occurring, the choices are not good. No one wants to live in fear of a recurrence of a giant black cloud coming to towns in America. The National Weather Service has little to offer other than recommending seeking a more fortified building. Unfortunately, not too many families pack up what’s left and move.
Now that loss of life is such a strong fear from this and a future tornado, maybe the only safety is relocation. Since our country formed, circumstances seem to push the concept, Go West Young Man, go West,” a statement credited to Horace Greeley the editor of the New York Tribune. Actually, any direction might work.
Health & Science Dr. Milton Friedman