Why do the TV stations put the little tiny maps at the bottom of the screen during weather alerts? Minnesota is a big state and unless you put your nose right on the screen, you can't tell where the little splotches of red and green are. For many of us, we have a hard time even making out that it appears to be a map of Minnesota(7 Comments)
The typical suburb is no match for a tornado. Few trees have reached maturity so there's nothing to absorb the wind energy before it reaches the home. And the houses themselves are drywall, plywood, and 2 x 4s. Cathedral celings are big these days. Knock out a wall, and the ceiling comes down. Suburban homes, when it comes to tornadoes, are the new mobile homes.
In 2005, an F3 tornado hit Utica, Illinois, killing 8 people. Afterwards, insurance companies and homebuilders worked on a better design according to a Chicago area TV station.
The walls are eight inches thick and consist of a pair of two-and-a-half-inch reinforced concrete sides, separated by three inches of high density foam. In laboratory tests, the difference in durability between this concrete sandwich-style and typical building materials is quite dramatic.
The stronger house, according to the story, costs about 10 percent more.
In Canada, the "Three Little Pigs Project" has created a lab for testing the ability of suburban homes to withstand wind.
It was created after 300 homes were destroyed in a tornado. Investigators found that one of the main reasons for the damage was the builders didn't use a washer on bolts and nuts that anchored the frame of the house to the foundation. Most of the injuries in tornadoes, the project found, occurs when the house is lifted up and then smashed to the ground.
Still, when you look at the amazing video in Oklahoma Saturday when a tornado hit a barn, you realize it's going to take more than washers.(1 Comments)
Jeff Jorgenson, a News Cut reader, sent along this photo, which he took yesterday along Lake Sylvia (3 mi west of Annandale, MN) at 3:35 p.m., about an hour before the system spawned the presumed tornado in Hugo.
How fast is a golf-ball-sized hailstone traveling when it hits the ground?
This site says it's about the speed of a major league fastball, which leads, naturally, to the question of why more people aren't killed by hail?
The Internet being what it is -- a series of tubes -- the answer (or at least an answer) is easily found... like here.
Hail is rarely big enough to be dangerous, and even if it is, a big chunk is unlikely to knock you out. Brooks mentions that most big hail falls in the underpopulated West, which reduces the probability of human injury. Also, when you compare houses getting damaged by hail to people getting damaged by hail, a couple other key differences come to mind: First of all, houses and buildings are much larger than people; the old cliché "it's as easy as hitting the side of a barn" certainly applies to a real barn. Secondly, during a hailstorm, most people tend to seek shelter, usually inside a house or a car. But the house and the car have nowhere to hide, so they're left to withstand Mother Nature's onslaught
Which leads to another question: What about birds? Why aren't they killed by hail? And the answer -- an answer -- shows that they are.
Flickr has some photos from the Hugo area worth viewing. Find them here.
By the way, if you want to see some lovely shots of post-tornadic Minnesota...
... check these out, shot over the northwestern suburbs last night by local pilot Pete Howell. (Used by permission)(3 Comments)
Here are some images taken by MPR staffers in Hugo on Monday. (10:26 p.m. - Five more pictures added.)
A couple of things to pass along:
*27 (Homes) Destroyed - Total collapse, not economically feasible to repair.
*16 Major - Large portions of the roof or walls missing, one or two walls missing.
*75 Minor - Minor structural damage, numerous broken windows, damage to small sections of roof.
*397 Affected - Some shingles missing, minor hail damage to siding, debris around dwelling. This number includes 311 townhome units.