2013-05-31 EVENT: KS, OK, MO, IL

Mar 23, 2013
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Denver, CO
There's currently some debate going on as to the actual reason for this. Many people will say that the soil in C OK is very impermeable and clayish so that water doesn't soak into it very well and that will lead to higher maintenance costs and water leaking into the basement. While there is some truth to that, I've also heard it's just a money and effort issue. I have also been told that if you have a basement, you need to keep the soil within a foot or so of the foundation constantly moist because dry soil shrinks away from the wall and can leave the foundation unbalanced or prone to damage. People don't want to pay for the extra construction (apparently due to the soil issue, it is a bit more expensive compared to other parts of the world). Given Oklahoma isn't the wealthiest state in the country, I think many people and businesses would just rather save money. Hopefully someone more knowledgeful than me can chime in on this, though, as I'm only providing second- or thirdhand information.
Wow. I bet some of the families that have lost loved ones that didn't have basements would tell you it's not worth it to save a few hundred or few thousand bucks.

I could understand if the land was rocky like in Tennessee where it's difficult almost impossible to dig a basement due to all the hard rock beneath the surface, but they don't get hit with the vast number of tornadoes that those living in Oklahoma experience.
 

Jeff Duda

EF6+, PhD
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Oct 7, 2008
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Wow. I bet some of the families that have lost loved ones that didn't have basements would tell you it's not worth it to save a few hundred or few thousand bucks.
Hence the recent rise in popularity of individual storm shelters. They're only a few thousand dollars, which is much cheaper than maintaining a basement over the course of a lifetime.
 

jmarc Pourcelet

Que pensez-vous d'un abri béton ou acier dans la maison? Bien sur c'est plus cher mais les vies sont précieuses.
 
Good question, Sean--i dunno, what percentage of residents have "inadequate shelter"?
I guess that opens the question as to what defines "adequate shelter". Just my personal opinion, but I don't care if it's an EF-0 tornado bearing down on the house I don't want to be sitting in a closet waiting for it to hit me which unfortunately is the case at this moment if I decide to stay in place. Adequate shelter to someone like me, who respects the power of tornadoes and storms in general is anything that will get you through the most violent tornado. Just a guess, but I would bet a few dollars that 75% of residences don't have this in place. It's a cost/risk thing for many people and it will continue to be that way.

I also get irritated with the glorification of getting super close to tornadoes. I take photos, spiffy them up and show them off. I understand the desire to get a good shot, and the satisfaction that comes with people enjoying your work. But now we're getting to a point where people are unnecessarily driving into tornadoes to get shots for movies, getting the closest video with debris all over the place, national weather channels sending teams out to stand in the way of a tornado.....all because people watch it and can't get enough of it. I'm not even sure those getting this close are making that much money from it, if any. People are attracted to others taking risk and living to tell about it, and seeing things that they would never see in their lives if not for the crazy folks who drive into them. Unless this changes, it will only get worse and has over the last couple of years. I think chasers have an important place in the world to create weather awareness and for reporting purposes, but there's absolutely no reason other than attention that requires someone to be up in it.
 
Aug 16, 2009
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I couldn't agree more fully. News networks talking about how professional & safe the videos and chasers are that they show? For ex. Mike Bettes does a dis-service getting a vehicle demolished: too close, too irresponsible, way too ratings-crazy. I've been at this since 1996, even subscribed & contributed to the StormTrack paper version. But, it's not about me, it's about the fact that during the last week, we've reached a new low, because people are putting themselves in positions to get hit by tornadoes, & then saying Ooops, & providing the media with torn-porn. Frankly, it's an embarrassing time to be a chaser.
This. So freakin this. I dread telling people I chase because the same stupid questions arise. "Have you been in one? Have you seen that guy from Storm Chasers? When's the next tornado supposed to hit?" I can easily and leisurely answer those questions without sounding like an asshole, but most times I'm not. I find it more fitting to say I'm a weather photographer, because I really don't like being rolled into the same ball as those other chasers that push it too close. I'm out there for the storms and the experience, not for the money.
 
Aug 16, 2009
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Que pensez-vous d'un abri béton ou acier dans la maison? Bien sur c'est plus cher mais les vies sont précieuses.
Translated to: What do you think of a concrete or steel shelter in the house? Of course it is more expensive but lives are precious.

I've noticed rest stops on the highway have these above ground safe rooms that are reinforced concrete and big heavy steel doors. I'm not sure what they're rated for, but for people of OK where soil is a big problem, this could be a good solution. Hell even build one big enough to hold several people in the neighborhood. This would surely be a much better solution than risking driving away and getting stuck in traffic.
 
Mar 23, 2013
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Denver, CO
maybe HOA's should be required by law to build large enough storm shelters for their subdivisions. (Wonder how many HOA's would cease to exist then lol). ;)
 
Apr 12, 2011
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The soil is a large part of it. Even simple slab foundations can be at risk of soil contraction here. That is one reason that foundation leveling is such a big industry here. Also, depending upon where you are, rock strata can also impede digging. We are currently investing in a storm shelter and all of the underground foundation companies have had trouble in Bartlesville with the limestone that lies right below the surface. We are going with an above ground safe room.
 
Feb 4, 2012
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Bottom line here is this: Unless your designated shelter or home is in the circulation, YOU HAVE NO GOOD REASON BEING THERE. Plain and simple.

Someone mentioned safety of an armored vehicle, but the roof of D3 was torn off yesterday, and veteran meteorologists/chasers vehicles were thrown hundreds of yards. YOUR NOT SAFE IN ANY VEHICLE NO MATTER HOW MANY MODS YOU'VE MADE.

Good point also whomever said CHASERS SHOULD NOT BE CHASING IN METRO AREAS.

HOW DARE SOME OF YOU chasers say that those who live in the area should not leave their home if its not well built? Especially while some of you are not even from the same state but instead drove many miles TO THEIR city/town to cruise around in your vehicle snapping video and pictures. Unreal.
 
Mar 7, 2009
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HOW DARE SOME OF YOU chasers say that those who live in the area should not leave their home if its not well built?.
They are saying it because it has been proven time and again that cars are death traps if they are hit by a tornado. Unlike you, I suspect, I do live in the Oklahoma City metro area. I chose not to leave Norman yesterday because the storm was moving directly towards the city, and I did not want to be involved in that mess.

Some of the things I saw in Norman as the tornado approached OKC were nothing short of incredible...huge traffic jams coming south, people driving on the wrong side of the road...people were in full-out panic mode. Later, I saw the aerial footage of the interstates on the south side of Oklahoma City, with miles-long traffic backups. If a violent tornado had managed to sustain itself and crossed one or more of those traffic jams, we would be talking about dozens, if not hundreds, of fatalities.

The reality is that in a large metro area, the roads are not equipped to deal with a sudden exodus of people like that. And a car gets you nowhere if you're not moving.

I've been chasing for five years, and I have encountered the aftermath of tornadoes on more then one occasion. If I had to choose between being hit by a tornado in a poorly built home and being hit by a tornado in my car, I'm taking the home. If I had to choose between being hit by a tornado in my car or jumping in the ditch, I'm jumping in the ditch.

They're death traps, plain and simple.
 
They are saying it because it has been proven time and again that cars are death traps if they are hit by a tornado. Unlike you, I suspect, I do live in the Oklahoma City metro area. I chose not to leave Norman yesterday because the storm was moving directly towards the city, and I did not want to be involved in that mess.

Some of the things I saw in Norman as the tornado approached OKC were nothing short of incredible...huge traffic jams coming south, people driving on the wrong side of the road...people were in full-out panic mode. Later, I saw the aerial footage of the interstates on the south side of Oklahoma City, with miles-long traffic backups. If a violent tornado had managed to sustain itself and crossed one or more of those traffic jams, we would be talking about dozens, if not hundreds, of fatalities.

The reality is that in a large metro area, the roads are not equipped to deal with a sudden exodus of people like that. And a car gets you nowhere if you're not moving.

I've been chasing for five years, and I have encountered the aftermath of tornadoes on more then one occasion. If I had to choose between being hit by a tornado in a poorly built home and being hit by a tornado in my car, I'm taking the home. If I had to choose between being hit by a tornado in my car or jumping in the ditch, I'm jumping in the ditch.

They're death traps, plain and simple.
As a side note, the number of vehicle related fatalities globally, and especially in developed nations and North America has steadily declined since the 1960's as newer safety technology and practices have been introduced. In the past most vehicle rollovers and highway/freeway collisions would often result in serious injury and/or death, but today most relative high speed collision don't result in death and often injuries are limited to maybe broken bones and whiplash. This is probably part of the reason why it seems more people survive impacts from tornadoes in cars than they seem to have in the past, despite there being more traffic on the road today than there was in the 1970's.

So given yesterdays situation more people were not killed thanks to better built cars than there may have been. Now that said, obviously it was not as large or as violent of a tornado as it could have been and cars are still one of the worst places to be when struck by a tornado, and if you get any considerable height or speed then even the best built vehicle will probably not save your life.
 

Jeff Duda

EF6+, PhD
Staff member
Supporter
Oct 7, 2008
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I think Jacob's underlying message was that structures are almost always the better alternative to cars, and it's much easier for 500,000 people to shelter in their own homes or local structures than for those people to try to escape in 125,000 vehicles along 2 4-lane, controlled access roads.
 
Mar 23, 2013
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Someone mentioned safety of an armored vehicle, but the roof of D3 was torn off yesterday, and veteran meteorologists/chasers vehicles were thrown hundreds of yards. YOUR NOT SAFE IN ANY VEHICLE NO MATTER HOW MANY MODS YOU'VE MADE.
let's maintain accuracy please, it was not the roof of the Dominator 3 that was torn off, it was just the hood that got ripped off. Just clarifying to keep that from evolving into something it was not.
 
Oct 10, 2004
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If a violent tornado had managed to sustain itself and crossed one or more of those traffic jams, we would be talking about dozens, if not hundreds, of fatalities.
So...the question on my mind is...why didn't it? Why the rapid transition to HP waterfalls after the first tornadic cycle near El Reno? It was expected that conditions Friday were going to be prime for violent, long-track tornadoes like the Moore one. Yesterday was like the meteorological equivalent of being let off with a warning.
 
Mar 2, 2009
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So...the question on my mind is...why didn't it? Why the rapid transition to HP waterfalls after the first tornadic cycle near El Reno? It was expected that conditions Friday were going to be prime for violent, long-track tornadoes like the Moore one. Yesterday was like the meteorological equivalent of being let off with a warning.
I'll reply to this because it's the only part of the thread I can respond to without getting dragged into a stupid internet argument.

From what I was watching on the radar yesterday, storms kept firing over the same real estate where very first supercell developed. All the subsequent storms ran into the rear of the first (El Reno?) storm and made it gust out. They didn't completely cut the storm off, but it became very outflow-dominant after its first tornado and never looked as impressive as it did near El Reno again. This developing convection kept happening overnight, even when the surface boundary had sagged south of the OKC metro, which is why there were such high rainfall totals overnight.

As to why stuff kept firing in the same area, I'm not sure. There was an area of very strong convergence on the Oklahoma Mesonet during the afternoon that was correlated with that area of developing convection, but that doesn't seem to explain why it kept happening overnight, after the surface convergence was way off to the south.
 
Oct 27, 2011
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The following is one example of someone extremely lucky to have survived after trying to bail south yesterday. Simply put Mike Morgan made a very bold, and dangerous statement on air that should not have been, especially since it was known that traffic was backed up most of the day. I agree that several mistakes were made by many people yesterday, but hopefully a few lessons were learned, and we won't be seeing very many repeats.

Emily Sutton's FB Page said:
they said it was coming straight east down i40 and we fled south. It hit us when it made a hard right on sw 156 and may. my two dogs were knocked out of my truck when someone hit me going at elast 5o mph. I am trying hard to be strong but its getting the best of me. No one stopped to help and there were hundreds of cars speeding past. The person that knocked me in to the ditch kept on going. My sister stopped when she saw me and I had to leave a truck two family members and my important stuff to take with me in case of a tornado in my car. And then we got hit by the funnel. Prayed and held tight. We had 5 dogs in her car and a bird in a cage. It was a bad night. I'm not gonna sleep till I find my furry babies dead or alive.
 
Mar 23, 2004
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As to why stuff kept firing in the same area, I'm not sure. There was an area of very strong convergence on the Oklahoma Mesonet during the afternoon that was correlated with that area of developing convection, but that doesn't seem to explain why it kept happening overnight, after the surface convergence was way off to the south.
I believe the E-W oriented outflow boundary had drifted north during the day and draped itself right along I-40 through the south OKC metro area. Extremely high PW values and high CAPE were realized when the atmosphere was uncorked. There were probably three individual mesocyclones and supercells in that massive HP cluster along the OFB.
 

STexan

EF4
Feb 11, 2012
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OK, we can Monday morning quarterback now. We know what happened, but we ALSO know what might just as easily have happened in the next identical setup. My question is what SHOULD have been said on TV/radio, what SHOULD LE have done to "manage" traffic, what SHOULD the typical resident living S of 40 and W of 35 have done who did not have a reliable shelter.

Tornadoes and severe storms are going to go where they are going to go and an exact projected path is never known especially in a situation like Friday, a "mass exodus" is SURE to lead to massive stopped traffic jams, I think we all agree you are safer to be in a home hit by a tornado and RFD winds than an automobile. But all that said, we still have to deal with human nature to flee approaching danger. I contend there was no right answer and how Friday should have been handled, but OKC DID dodge a bullet and will live to have another go at it again next spring at some point. Had a long-lived large wedge sustained itself from El Reno to Moore (just as easily could have occurred), this thread context and tone would be much different.
 
Feb 4, 2012
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let's maintain accuracy please, it was not the roof of the Dominator 3 that was torn off, it was just the hood that got ripped off. Just clarifying to keep that from evolving into something it was not.
Thank you for clarifying. I obtained my information from a television media report, which I thought was accurate.
 
Oct 10, 2004
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The following is one example of someone extremely lucky to have survived after trying to bail south yesterday. Simply put Mike Morgan made a very bold, and dangerous statement on air that should not have been, especially since it was known that traffic was backed up most of the day. I agree that several mistakes were made by many people yesterday, but hopefully a few lessons were learned, and we won't be seeing very many repeats.
I was watching KFOR's live stream along with most of you and at one point MM stated that people would be safe (from the tornado which was south/east of El Reno along I-40 at that point) if they got as far south as Moore. That statement really raised my eyebrows, at first mainly because of the history associated with Moore. But then, where did the storm's next mesocyclone cycle go? Moore. Luckily for them (and Mike!), by then the process Tim mentioned was underway and it was only putting down intermittent EF0 spin-ups.
 
Feb 4, 2012
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I looked at radar scans several times throughout the night an when I saw the SuperCell finally form a hook, I prayed. It looked like it was seriously going to level OKC/Norman or Moore area. It looked like an absolute BEAST> the size of CT. Rather than hundreds die in rubble, many take a chance in their car. Rhetorical question, Why are people NOT riding the storm out? Because humans have a need to feel in control of their surrounings and people feel like they at least have a chance when they move out of the way of a storm that size. If a tornado hits their car, like the unfortunate victims yesterday, they don't stand much of a chance. But who can blame them? They know damn well if an F5 hits their home, they are toast. 99 out of 100 people here would probably flee if they lived in an area that had an impending F5 heading their way.

Guess the question remains, are chasers adding to the problem driving in/around major cities at rush hour during an outbreak? I would say they are not the root of the problem, but the sensationalism of the past 5 or so years of Tornado media has caused a completely skewed view of the dangers.
 

Mike Smith

A couple of thoughts:

1) While I don't doubt the soil is poor in some parts of Oklahoma, the entire state? I have friends in Arkansas City, KS (2 mi. north of border) with basements and one in Comanche Co., Kansas (5 mi. north of border) with a basement. The Flint Hills of Kansas are known for their limestone (heck, there is a mine in Butler Co.)but, again, homes and commercial buildings in the Flint Hills have basements. I just don't buy the "soil is poor" argument over every square mile of Oklahoma (and, yes, my friend in Tulsa tells me he doesn't have a basement because "the soil is poor").

2) I haven't seen anyone comment on the sinusoidal movement of the tornado(s) and its effects on the chasing mess last night. See: http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/2013/06/comments-about-fridays-storms.html A similar movement occurred with the Cleburne, Texas, tornado recently.
 
Oct 10, 2004
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http://www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/?n=events-20130531

Survey results are indicating the initial storm's second or third cycle produced a tornado that was on the ground for 32 minutes, with a 10.4 mile path length and a 1.4 mile maximum path width in a densely populated area, and a damage rating of only EF1? That has got to be EXTREMELY unusual as well as very fortunate for those trapped in the path.
 
Apr 14, 2011
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I couldn't agree more fully. News networks talking about how professional & safe the videos and chasers are that they show? For ex. Mike Bettes does a dis-service getting a vehicle demolished: too close, too irresponsible, way too ratings-crazy. I've been at this since 1996, even subscribed & contributed to the StormTrack paper version. But, it's not about me, it's about the fact that during the last week, we've reached a new low, because people are putting themselves in positions to get hit by tornadoes, & then saying Ooops, & providing the media with torn-porn. Frankly, it's an embarrassing time to be a chaser.
That's it exactly. Some outfit I've never heard of is being heavily promoted by having their video of being pelted with large debris broadcast on every channel from hell to breakfast. Their YouTube video, complete with a description in 12-year-old-ese, proclaims it to be "the most incredible footage ever caught by an unarmored vehicle". The footage is inter-cut with interior shots showing a passenger-seat chaser screaming like a girl about how they're all going to die or something (amusing, but an editing decision I personally would not have made in their position, unless they really didn't like that guy). Another video's description informs us that it is the "the LONGER INCREDIBLE WAY TOO CLOSE video" that its poster took, and includes an anecdote about how he had to stop the car because his sunglasses had blown off.

Storm chasers have long, long fought against the stereotype that they are simply thrill-seekers out for a rush. But how can you fight that fight, in the midst of a deluge of videos like these, which very clearly are people deliberately putting themselves in harm's way and very clearly not with any intent to "save lives"?
 

Deleted member 2911

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/?n=events-20130531

Survey results are indicating the initial storm's second or third cycle produced a tornado that was on the ground for 32 minutes, with a 10.4 mile path length and a 1.4 mile maximum path width in a densely populated area, and a damage rating of only EF1? That has got to be EXTREMELY unusual as well as very fortunate for those trapped in the path.
I can only armchair, I was watching rads and chase vehicle livestreams. To me, this was not a typical tornado, what started out as a tornado, rapidly changed into a large rotating base that kept putting down small vortexes over and over that rotated within the base. So that in places, with all the rain and junk in that air, it seemed to be a monster, when in fact is was more or less a contained swarm or cluster. I cant believe anyone in the right mind would actually tell people to try to go get into a car and drive to get away. Yes, we all know it is easy enough to observe from a distance and continue to move to stay safe, but masses of people getting into a car, and then becoming afraid by the large swirling mass and backed up traffic, will just panic.

Last thing, a Question, Who all was in the Weather Channel car that crashed? I saw one video from inside a car, and swear I heard Timmer yelling that everything was ok, but then it seems as if they got hit too?

In any event this tornado really needs serious study as to find out why is was so bizarre and why it made directional changes it did. Glad so few lost lives to it, again chasers save lives.