Question for STL Area Chasers

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Jan 8, 2005
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794
Location
Huntsville, Alabama
My daughter and her family--who spent yet another evening in the bathtubs in Montgomery, AL last night (2/13)--are relocating to the STL metro area on Illinois side of the river this summer. Her husband is a major in the USAF.

She has asked me for recommendations on towns to live in on the east side of the river that are "less prone to tornadoes than others." Her previous experience in the Dayton, Ohio area was that tornadoes seemed to frequent the region around Xenia, and she wants to know if there are places east of St. Louis that get hit more often than others. Besides their two young sons, they will be bringing her horse and will be looking for a good place to stable it--she is a competition rider.

She and I recognize that no place is stormproof, but she is more interested in current trends. I plan on researching some charts, but I thought those of you in the area would have better firsthand information.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations.
 
I am a former STL resident..born and raised there. There are some true corridors on the IL side. One runs across from Columbia through Belleville (this one has been fairly quiet lately), a second one runs across O'Fallon toward the Highland, New Baden, and Lebanon areas. Other ones further north probably would be too far from the AFB so won't mention these which are located in Madison Co. IL.
 
The East Alton / Edwardsville area may be ideal for them. I-255 is being extended north to (or beyond) Hwy 140 and provides a good fast option to StL while living in a small town/rural area. I have a friends whose parents have a small farm (which used to have a few horses) near the Hwy 140 / Hwy 159 intersection north of Edwardsville, and it seems like a great area. The area is growing fast, and they'll have to jump on land soon if they want ample land for horses.

Just keep them out of the East St. Louis to Washington Park area, they'll be dodging bullets, not tornadoes there.
 
I'd tell her there is NO use in trying to locate a "less prone" town in a general area....given any data you can dig up. It seems pretty silly to me. It would make more sense to concentrate on build, having a basement, a weather radio, and perhaps spending a few bucks to make a tornado shelter(steel re-inforced deal). I mean does a town not having been hit for a long time mean it is safer? I'd think if it means anything it would be the opposite.
 
Take my area for instance, until march 12th of last year a lot of the residence in this area thought there was some sort of invisible wall around benton county (ar) until we had a family of tornadoes roll on in that night.
 
I'd tell her there is NO use in trying to locate a "less prone" town in a general area....given any data you can dig up. It seems pretty silly to me. It would make more sense to concentrate on build, having a basement, a weather radio, and perhaps spending a few bucks to make a tornado shelter(steel re-inforced deal). I mean does a town not having been hit for a long time mean it is safer? I'd think if it means anything it would be the opposite.

Thanks, Mike--I agree with you in general--but I've noted that here in Alabama there are periods when certain areas seem to be frequented more often by tornado warnings. The northern part of the state where I live used to get a lot more activity than it does now--it seems like central AL is getting more activity for the last few years.

I doubt they will be building since they will only be assigned there for four years.
 
I live in Edwardsville, and I agree with Mike. I don't think one area is statistically safer than another. You can look up the historic data on St. Clair and Madison County tornadoes and see for yourself. But even if you see clusters, the next tornado might follow a different path. If your house is in the way, that is the one that matters to you. Rather than trying to locate where tornadoes are less likely, I would just make sure I have a basement and a weather radio.
 
My aunt lives in Pierron, IL (Just Northeast of Highland). She has bounced around all over the place up there. (Troy, Carlyle, New Baden, Trenton, and Saint Jacob) I usually will run up there and crash if I see a system is taking a run though central IL. Every town she has been to up there has been real nice. Real friendly people, flat landscape, and tons of highways :). Now living in the boondocks like I do, it had a slight city feel to it up there, but she loves it since she works there in STL. My uncle works there at Scott AFB also with the ANG. They prefer the area and I believe almost 50% of his crew lives within 10 miles of him. But overall, it is a nice area and it sure beats living close to East STL or such. Like they say, that's a bad news district.

I doubt you'll ever find a place to be totally immune from twister strikes. IMHO, i've noticed alot of severe going just north of us here in Deep South Illinois and just south of them. They do always seem to get more snow then us though! Ha Good luck to them with the move...and welcome them to the State of IL.

Nick
 
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I've had people email me with this very same question for other areas of the country. I think Mike's idea is great - spend your time making sure your home is ready for a tornado. You can't pick and choose cities hoping one will be missed by tornadoes. Maybe a couple areas have been hit more often recently, but in the end a tornado can occur anywhere.
 
My daughter and her family--who spent yet another evening in the bathtubs in Montgomery, AL last night (2/13)--are relocating to the STL metro area on Illinois side of the river this summer. Her husband is a major in the USAF.

She has asked me for recommendations on towns to live in on the east side of the river that are "less prone to tornadoes than others." Her previous experience in the Dayton, Ohio area was that tornadoes seemed to frequent the region around Xenia, and she wants to know if there are places east of St. Louis that get hit more often than others. Besides their two young sons, they will be bringing her horse and will be looking for a good place to stable it--she is a competition rider.

.

Others have stated it well, there is no place in the Metro St. Louis area that is more or less prone to storms. If your son-in-law is in the USAF (and I am assuimng will be based at Scott) it would be better for them to find a place in close proximity to the base. She has to remember, this part of the midwest is directly in Tornado Alley. Thunderstorms can be quite intense coming through here. As to the horse boarding, I can check with the wife of one of my nephews. She has a horse and I do believe it is boarded somewhere in the Columbia IL area but I'd have to double check.

Max...
 
As Mike and others said, trying to place in a perceived less active area really isn't the way to go about it. It only takes one, even assuming there are areas of more activitiy and areas of less. It's important to be ready wherever you are, since a tornado can strike anywhere. I would make sure there's a shelter and wx radio as they said, and pick a location based on other criteria.

Edwardsville is a nicer area in Metro-East (IL side). Belleville-Columbia-Shiloh-Scott AFB actually does seem to be an active area, as Brian said, though it continues in recent years. St. Louis itself was extremely active from the 1870s-1960s, here is a tornado climatology by NWS St. Louis for the area.
 
As an outsider who has toured around STL for a potential move, I am partial to the IL side just outside the city limits near I-64. It is very Plains-like, flat with a lot of open fields. The drive into town isn't too bad from these areas, yet there is a relaxed, rural feel to it. Shiloh-Scott AFB area has a Metrolink station with, according to the timetables, a cheap 45 minute commute into downtown (around $2 at last check). St. Charles and areas north of there are pretty nice, with some good open areas.

If urban living is their thing, Tower Grove is a pretty interesting part of town. As some mentioned, the immediate east STL area in IL has a bad reputation and a run-down appearance. Once you get a few miles east of there, however, things improve.

Although it's been said over and over on this thread, all areas around metro STL are equally tornado-prone.
 
Yeah, it depends on what one is looking for. As Dan said, there are areas east of STL that are flat and open and that's nice if one like's that for the landscape/view, farming, or chasing. It also gives good access north to chasing in central Illinois. Most places on the MO side will be hillier and maybe forested, but some prefer that. Most of the suburbs are also on the MO side.

If one likes urban living there are various places depending on exactly what one is looking for. The Tower Grove Park area is nice, being quite eclectic with various peoples, shops and restaurants, with apt access to highways and mass transit. It's an up-and-coming area on its way to becoming an attraction similar to The Loop and Central West End. And the park itself is expansive and well known for wildlife including many migrating birds, so one could get both green and urban. The Missouri Botanical Garden is on the site, as well. Tower Grove is eclectic as I said, with a variety of cultures and ethnicities in the area, and is gay friendly. St. Louis itself is one of the most segregated cities in the country, as there was mass white exodus to the suburbs in the mid-20th century, but various areas are coming back as the above link, and this, discusses.
 
A big thanks to all of you, from my daughter and me, for your excellent and thoughtful recommendations. This has been her first contact with Stormtrack since David Hoadley published a cartoon of her in 1983 or so.

We are all in previous and total agreement that tornado evasion via real estate is not possible. But your personal insights and experiences with the area are irreplacable

We welcome further advice. Again, thanks to all of you.
 
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