Only way to avoid de­struc­tion is to move from Tor­nado Al­ley

North Penn Life - - OPINION -

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

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