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tornadoes

today there isn't Greensburg, Kansas in the place where Greensburg, Kansas was yesterday, which is sad, and has also put everyone on "freak out about Kansas weather" mode. My neighbor came and asked me earlier if I'd been watching the skies because we're under all these watches... mentioned something about how there'd be a terrible hailstorm in the next 15 minutes, according to the news. I have yet to hook my television up to the outside world (no antenna, no cable), so I'm pretty unaware of things like this. Anyway I need to go to campus to finish a paper and haven't yet, because of that.

not that the time is lost hanging out in the apartment. I have a final thursday that's going to be (to steal a line) like an episode of oz. I've spent the last hour trying to repair the fact that I never really understood what a covariance matrix meant.

it's very difficult to make myself think about school for one more week four more days. I want to be somewhere else, mentally. My professor holds review sessions on Saturdays before tests, and last night's was FOUR HOURS. of working problems. because in class, he wants to fly through proofs and finish chapters, not get bogged down by pesky examples. oh yes!

incidently the tornado article on NOAA says they're "nature's most violent storms". Um, hurricanes, anyone? I mean sure, tornadoes come out of nowhere whereas with hurricanes you get these nice warnings, but generally speaking tornadoes will take out every other house or every third house or something in a neighborhood, not sweep out an entire city. With a tornado you just hang out in the basement for a while until it moves over, and if it took your house there's a neighbor to stay at. Exception, obviously, would be an F5 like the one in Greensburg yesterday... if the tornado is a mile wide hits a town that's a mile wide you have bigger issues. But this really doesn't happen too often. I am way more scared of winding up in some costal town when the ocean gets pissed off and I am living in Kansas, where we have occasional tornadoes. I've lived here 14 years and have never personally seen one, and have talked to plenty of rednecks who did see one, spent the time drinking beer on their porch with video cameras, and lived to tell about it.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
tempus_aeterna
May. 6th, 2007 10:09 pm (UTC)
I totally agree about the hurricane vs. tornado thing. I grew up for 20 years in Indiana and we had tornadoes quite often (although not as often as Kansas) and the number of houses which were damaged by them were quite few in number in comparison to places where there are hurricanes or massive flooding. I would never live in the parts of NJ that are flood plains, and even considering schools in Florida has me worried out of my mind.
season
May. 6th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
i think they are more violent in that they are more frequent and cause more damage money wise than hurricanes do.

and i have never actually seen a tornado, and have lived in tornado prone areas (indiana, illinois) my whole life (okay, save for those two years i was in boston). i think lake michigan mitigates a lot of that sort of weather though...
consortofvenus
May. 6th, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC)
Totally agreed RE hurricanes and tornadoes.

But, dude, SO sad that an entire town is gone.

I love those rednecks.
easter
May. 6th, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC)
See, I am far, FAR more scared of a tornado than I am a hurricane.

I guess perhaps it's a "fear of the unknown" thing, as I've lived through -- well, not many, but a few -- fairly severe hurricanes, and I've never run into a tornado.

With a hurricane, you get an awful lot of time to prepare. Also, our house is fairly inland for a costal town, and those houses that aren't have been built making accomodations to things like floods and wind. Although I must say hurricanes rarely hit NJ, I would be better equipped to really pass a judgement if I lived in Florida or coastal LA or TX.

Tornadoes though come up out of almost nowhere, and you have to go to a special kind of cellar. What if you're at work when one comes up? Or at school? Or at the mall? Plus, they come up so fast. How do you know one is coming, or where it's headed? Scary. Scary scary scary.
becksterminator
May. 7th, 2007 03:42 am (UTC)
you don't have to go to a special kind of cellar. you go to an interior room without windows on the ground level/basement. I would say there's usually at least a decent amount of warning, and if you've lived in the midwest for 20 years, as I have, you know that when there are spring thunderstorms there might be tornadoes too, and then if there are they come on the radio telling you to go to the basement or somewhere with no windows. Schools and places of employment and malls have tornado plans. In elementary/middle/high school we had monthly tornado drills. At first this involved assuming "tornado position" in the hallway, which is kind of a butt-up fetal position with your hands covering your neck. The position has changed, and it kind of became just sit there, and we were shepherded in to designated classrooms instead of the hallway, etc. Point being, you get used to it.

However, I understand it's totally weird for people who haven't grown up with it. I spent 3 months in Arizona last summer and the natives were totally unfazed that large portions of the state were frequently ON FIRE...but they were scared of tornadoes. Go figure.
belgand
May. 8th, 2007 01:43 pm (UTC)
The worst part was when I was in college and we'd all get herded down to the basement during meals sometimes. Not only would I miss getting to eat properly, but I'd usually also miss the Simpsons as well. Plus all the annoying tornado warnings on TV and the little mini-map of counties where nobody of consequence actually lives in the corner obscuring the show I'm watching on TiVo a week (or years) later. It's always weird to see a storm warning map in the corner of a year-old episode of something now that I'm living halfway across the country.
sporkopolis
May. 7th, 2007 12:29 am (UTC)
Hurricanes are big and slow. You see them coming for days. You can totally get out of their way.

Tornados strike with very little warning.

Hurricanes do cause lots of damage. But one tornado, much smaller than a massive hurricane, can totally erase a city. Hurricanes don't really do that. Sure, they'll knock stuff down, they can flood, and even spawn tornados... but it is the tornado that is just scary beyond belief.

Take a map and run a frisbee over it - that's a hurricane - everything under it gets damaged and badgered a bit. Then take a pencil and draw around on it - everything you drew on gets destroyed outright.
(Anonymous)
May. 7th, 2007 02:13 am (UTC)
I thought tornado winds could be stronger than hurricanes. The danger from hurricanes is flooding. Also, we can watch a hurricane come. Tornadoes just drop out of the sky without warning. So people don't have much time to make decisions about protection. We have so many tornado warnings in Kansas, that unfortunately we tend to drop our guard. The reality is that we should not.
I thought the scary thing about the one that just hit was that people were not safe in their basements either. Makes me want to go out and dig an old fashioned in the dirt storm cellar.
crisco747
May. 7th, 2007 02:53 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'll just stay here, nestled up against the Rocky Mountains. All I have to worry about is occasionally getting snowed in for a few days. Living in a tornado prone region would scare the shit out of me.
crazyzofo
May. 7th, 2007 03:41 am (UTC)
you live in kansas and you're not afraid of tornadoes. i live in florida and when we get a hurricane warning, we MIGHT throw our backyard furniture in the pool. MIGHT.
belgand
May. 8th, 2007 01:40 pm (UTC)
Bah, I've never been afraid of tornadoes at any time in my life. I trace this back to my mother being overly worried about them when I was growing up and the likely chance that I'm responding by caring much less due to her overreacting. Thankfully I now don't have to worry about tornadoes at all, just earthquakes. Something which I am also completely unworried about.

As for the town... it's Greenburg, Kansas. It barely existed before the tornado. Just have everyone there move to a town of actual substance. Repeat this a few dozen times and Kansas might actually have more than three or four smallish towns to put on a map.
aardvarklf
May. 9th, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC)
Greenburg was actually a fairly nice town - it had an actual main street with actual functioning shops, and not everybody living there was over 60. It was therefore doing better than most farm towns on the Great Plains. I can definitely think of square-mile stretches of Kansas that I'd rather have had flattened.
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