Sunday, April 27, 2014

Amazing Footage of Rare Off-Season 2013 Tornado in Illinois

The main tornado season in the United States is between April and July.
Of course that doesn't mean that tornadic events outside these dates do not happen.

One particularly late event happened last November.

During the tornado outbreak of November 17th 2013, 8 people lost their lives as a direct result of tornadic activity. The outbreak affected the states of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

In this gripping video, a dad and his daughter are inside their home in Washington, Illinois, as the tornado approaches. The tornado was an EF4 (Enhanced Fujita scale) with winds speeds of 267-332km/h (166-200mph). Fortunately, they were both unharmed, albeit understandably shaken.

A constant question coming from us Europeans when we see footage like this is why do Americans build their houses out of wood? Why not use cement and steel?

I have read in comment sections and forums Americans insisting that no house, whichever way it is built, can withstand an EF5 or even EF4 tornado (winds >267km/h). It would be interesting to see the effect of a strong tornado on a house made with a cement-steel skeleton, foundation and walls. Personal opinion, there might be a lot of damage through weak points, like windows, but the structure itself should remain standing. Of course it might need to be demolished afterwards, but at least the walls could provide some protection against deadly debris (instead of becoming debris themselves). In the end, the true reason why Americans use a lot of wood and other light materials in their homes is because they are cheaper that way, plus the probability of a house being hit by a tornado is actually so small that it doesn't justify adding the extra cost to all houses being built.  

Some before and after images from Washington, Illinois, can be found here (Daily Mail) and here ( Below, you can see the path of the tornado.

It's amazing how houses that were not directly in the path of the tornado (perhaps just 50m away) appear almost undamaged.


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