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Unread 08-31-2007, 10:10 AM
 
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Default Tornadoes and severe weather?

How severe are the thunderstorms etc in Huntsville and surrounding areas? How about tornadoes? I now that quite a few years ago, there was a tornado that devastated the area. I realize that tornadoes can happen anywhere (even in the northeast) but would like info on the severity of the storms in this area........thank you
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Unread 08-31-2007, 02:16 PM
 
Location: Alabama!
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Check out these threads:
Tornadoes in Alabama
Basement question for N. Alabama

There are multiple other mentions in other threads within the Alabama forum...just do a search with "tornado" as your subject.
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Unread 09-01-2007, 11:04 PM
 
Location: Huntsville, AL
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NOAA and the National Weather Service are both represented here, new doplar radar systems are developed here and satellite imagery that you see on TV whenever there's a hurricane is received and processed here before national distribution to TV outlets. While we might get the occasional 'wind event,' most of the time we know a day or two ahead of time that there's a liklihood of severe weather and even the time of day it's most likely to occur. It's rarely a sudden, unexpected thing. These folks are on it.
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Unread 09-02-2007, 05:40 AM
 
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There are sirens in most areas to warn of a tornado, but dbkeel stated they are on top of things here. If there is any sereve weather in the area TV stations here interrupt programing to track the storm. They can tell you exactly where it may occur and which way it is going.
Is it scary the first couple of times, of course it is..get a weather radio so you can get some sleep if the storms arrive at night.
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Unread 09-02-2007, 02:21 PM
 
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On average how often are there severe storms? Not tornados...sever thunder/lightning storms... The season for severe weather is Spring....correct?
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Unread 09-02-2007, 03:40 PM
 
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Spring and fall are the time for severe weather. Thunderstorms occur then but lightening is not that bad at least compared to FL. Most of the time it is just rain. Now.. others may have had different experiences having lived here longer.
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Unread 09-02-2007, 08:48 PM
 
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Default tornados

Its funny. I had a friend from California, and we always would argue over which is scarier: tornados or earthquakes. I won.

I could never understand why people would be so afraid of tornados. Ive grown up here and to me there not a big deal. How could that be when we see on the national news all the devistation and even loss of life sometimes? Well, it's like others said, there is always plenty of warning and you can watch on tv as the storm approaches. When it gets close you go to the basement for awhile and when it passes over come up and life is normal 99.9999 percent of the time. Have you ever noticed when they interview the people who lost everything in a tornado a good percentage of the time they lived in a trailer park?

I strongly suggest that anyone living in Alabama NOT live in a trailer.

To answer your question: I would say that I go to the basement once or twice a year. Almost always in the spring. Its kind of like the hurricane seasons: some are worse than others.

I for one get excited when storms come. I love the spring, because I love thunderstorms. I love the way the sky looks and the air smells great. Its fun to see the trees sway in the wind.

It is anoying tho that TV shows are pre-empted for the weather so often. and there is no way to "catch up" on them.

Hope this helps
eeyore
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Unread 09-03-2007, 06:05 AM
 
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Good advice regarding trailers. I have a theory.. tornados are drawn to them.. or at least it appears to be that way, even in FL and the midwest
Check out the info on City-data ... the last bad tornado was in 1974
http://www.city-data.com/city/Huntsville-Alabama.html
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Unread 09-03-2007, 09:16 AM
 
Location: Alabama!
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Actually the last bad tornado in Huntsville was in November, 1989. A tornado touched down at Airport Road and Memorial Parkway. Thirty were killed, including people in cars, in an apartment complex and in a nearby shopping center. Crestwood Hopsital is very close to the site. News reports said people came to the hospital, dazed and with their clothing sucked off by the winds...other victims had insulation and debris embedded in their ears. Children and teachers in an elementary school took shelter under a staircase while the winds yanked out windows. I saw the storm system pass overhead as I was pumping gas 20 miles away, and you could tell tornadoes would be forming out of it. It's unusual to have tornadoes touch down in a populated area...not because it's populated but there are, percentage wise, more rural areas.
A tornado touched down in 1995 in several rural towns just outside Huntsville. 1 person was killed.
That is why we in North Alabama are so vigilant during tornado season.
Descriptions of both tornadoes are posted in Wikipedia.
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Unread 09-03-2007, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
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"I strongly suggest that anyone living in Alabama NOT live in a trailer. "

Hmmm, how many houses have you seen that are designed to be dragged down the road at 70mph? The point is that a strong tornado will toast a stick built home just as quickly as a trailer. Trailer parks suffer a couple of fatal flaws. First, they generally are on open flat land that was easy to develop. Because of that, the wind in the area has a chance of building to maximum speed very close to the ground. Secondly, the older, less wind resistant trailers and carports in trailer parks provide ample flying debris to pummel the neighbors and begin to break them apart.

FWIW, there is a huge difference in design specs between older trailers and some of the new manufactured homes. Didn't think a "trailer" could have 16" o.c. 2" x 6" walls both glued and screwed to the sheathing? Guess again. The industry has changed a lot since the 1960s and is much more highly regulated by HUD and the state.

We looked at a lot of older stick-built homes in Alabama and came to the conclusion that many, if not most of them had substandard construction compared to even older trailers, as well as serious insect and weather damage. The rule that stick-builts are stronger than trailers just no longer holds. TV loves to reinforce stereotypes, so many people don't realize the realities, like the Countrywalk stick-built community in Florida was the worst damaged community during Hurricane Andrew, not some nearby trailer parks. In Punta Gorda, manufactured homes built to recent standards stayed intact while nearby homes and condos were ruined in a different hurricane.

I recently got a chance to walk the construction floor of a plant that was making homes for MEMA (Mississippi Emergency Management Agency). If I couldn't get to a storm shelter, I'd sooner weather a storm in a properly tied down one of those units that in 90% of stick built homes. They had amazingly strong walls and a metal roof on an overengineered hip roof truss system. There are, of course, older trailers that I wouldn't want to be in even during a mild thunderstorm.

All these really sidesteps the reality however. If 500 lb sections of tree branches and other debris are being flung around by 125+mph winds, the only real protection lies underground. Survival above ground is more a factor of chance and luck than the choice of construction methods.
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