Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Staying in Harms Way

Is it worth it? It is a 4 word question, the question I ask myself time and time again, and one of the reasons why I write weather blogs. Let's checkout the question a bit further...

Is it worth it to stay in the path of a hurricane? Obviously not, but people continue to decide to stay in their homes after they were amply warned of the pending hurricane, how strong it will be, and even when they are told how devastating it will be. Homeowners repeatedly say, I can't leave my home, either because they just paid it off, or because "I was born here and never plan to leave here". Or they say, "I was born here and I'll die here." They are the most misguided or shall I say the most stubborn of people. Actually what they don't think about is how selfish they are. Yes, they don't want to loose everything they worked for their entire lives,  but do they really have control of what they are going to loose or not loose in a hurricane because they decided to stay. Is it worth it that their offspring loose their parents because they decided that they weren't going to leave?   What were they going to save? If they built their home knowing that where they built it may become a catastrophe some day, then hopefully they bought flood insurance and is properly insured to rebuild again if they decide to try and ride it out until the next time a hurricane comes by. But why stay in the hurricanes path not even able to collect the insurance to rebuild if you are going to die instead?Why spend the extra money for the insurance if you can't protect your own life? People in New Orleans who experienced hurricane Katrina found out that even with that Category 3 hurricane, it wasn't wise to stay in their homes and not evacuate, as flood waters from a broken damn flooded out their homes, covering the rooftops.

Is it worth it to stay in the path of a tornado? Flooding is not the issue here, but it is the extremely high circulating winds that pose the problem. Winds in excess of 200 MPH tore through the town of Moore Oklahoma just a few weeks ago, a Category 5 tornado that seemed to revisit them from just a couple of years earlier. Yet, from the initial tornado, many rebuilt, this time with storm shelters, which in the most recent case, may have saved their lives. But for these people, the saying is true "They are a gluten for punishment". It is true that the recent victims of the storm may have never imagined that a Category 5 storm would revisit the same neighborhood just a few years apart, but then again, this actually happened. They may be the same people that may say that "Lighting will never strike the same place twice".  That may be wishful thinking, but so far from the truth.

Just last weekend, more devastating tornadoes rushed through Oklahoma, killing more people, and also with them 3 storm chasers, Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras and Carl Young. These guys were pioneers in their field and will be sadly missed by weather forecasters and of course their families. It was their passion, to follow the storms, to try and understand how they worked, and how to help people avoid them. But one such twister decided to take a path of its own, the largest now every recording in U.S. history, one that the storm chasers never imagined and didn't have a plan to successfully evade such a strong storm, as they were caught it the middle of the storm and did not survive it. It was the largest tornado in recorded history, the date of May 31, 2013 in El Reno, Oklahoma as announced by the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma. The EF-5 re-classification was based upon Doppler radar data taken by Oklahoma University's mobile RAXPol radar. According to comments made by tornado researcher Rick Smith at a press conference today, the mobile radar was positioned on top of an overpass, and recorded winds close to the surface of up to 295 MPH in satellite suction vorticies that orbited the large, main vortex. 

Mother nature, in all of its beauty can provide the most destructive fury known on the planet. With the instruments available today to detect storms, satellites hovering above the earth taking pictures, and all of the knowledge gained throughout the years, you would think that the general public would understand that leaving the stricken area is for their own good if told they should leave, but instead they decide to stay.

For me, I would never build in an area where I knew I could harm my family if such a storm decided to pass through. With that said, who knows when and where tornadoes will strike. But if history proves time and time again that you are living in a danger zone, why then would you condemn yourself and your family to the horrors of such an experience.

With that said, I realize that I myself can be in immediate danger if a tornado decided to visit where I live. I may be a little too far south to get visiting by the Oklahoma hurricanes, as I live in Dallas Texas. But this town was visited by a few tornadoes of its own. One recently destroyed some skyscrapers in the downtown area. For me, when I know of bad weather in the area, I always watch and listen to the news to know exactly where the storms may be and the chances of the storm developing into something more than just a rain shower. I'm not going to set and home and let a tornado harm my family. At the earliest opportunity, I will get out of the path when there is a tornado warning, which means one has been spotted, on the ground and may be coming your way. Sometimes you only have minutes or even less when a tornado actually forms and hits your residence, but the weather forecasters will have given proper notice well ahead of time that the chances of such a storm could affect a certain area. That's the time to leave. That's the time to put your pride in your back pocket and save your family. That's the time to make one of the most critical and difficult decisions you may make in your lifetime, to leave your home.

But just DO IT !
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