Monday, May 23, 2011
Joplin.. a terrible reminder of what a violent tornado can do in an urban center..
The Joplin tornado disaster should serve as a wake-up call for us in the Prairies as to what an F4 or F5 tornado is capable of doing when it moves into a populated area. By strong tornado standards, the Joplin tornado was relatively short lived.. lasting only about 20 minutes with a track length of about 20 km (often, violent tornadoes can track 100 km or more and last 1 or 2 hours or more). But much of those 20 km were right over a densely populated and commercialized area of a moderately sized city, leading to the deadliest single tornado event in the US in over 60 years. Even with today's technology and advanced warnings, these violent tornadoes are not survivable unless you're in a reinforced shelter, or underground. Although rare, F4 or F5 tornadoes can and do occur in the Prairies. We're fortunate that we have a lot of open space that's sparsely populated.. but it only takes one violent tornado hitting a populated area to do what we saw in Joplin. F4 tornadoes have occurred in Regina and Edmonton, and an F5 tornado struck just west of Winnipeg in Elie in 2007. The odds are remote, but they're not zero. It can happen here..
Posted by rob at 5:14 PM