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Old 01-15-2010, 12:47 PM
 
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As I consider Kansas as I potential place to live, I can't help but think about tornadoes. It's not that I have never lived in a place where they are possible, just never a place as prone as Kansas.

How can I overcome this fear? I am actually not as concerned about losing my life, as I am about losing everything I own and the place I live in. I don't even own that much, but the idea of starting over scares me. I keep playing out this scenario in my mind that this will eventually happen. I can't help but think that in Kansas, it is inevitable that every place will eventually get hit by a tornado.

I know the main advice everyone gives is "have a plan". I would be renting an apartment, so I have no control over how the building is built, and I won't be able to just run down to my basement during every potential warning. So what do people in this situation do?

Is there such thing as tornado insurance? If so, any idea how much it costs? Is this something I should get on top of normal renter's insurance?

I really like a lot of other things about Kansas. I just need to get over this fear!
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Old 01-15-2010, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Aloverton
6,545 posts, read 11,106,067 times
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Best way: go to the US Census website. Find the total number of residents and dwellings in Kansas. Then go to whatever service, probably NOAA, keeps records of tornadoes in detail. Find the average number of annual deaths and injuries from tornadoes in Kansas, calculating it if need be from the past ten years. Do the same for the number of residential dwelling units destroyed by tornadoes.

Divide. That will give you the rough odds of you being a victim. Triple the deaths if you live in a trailer park because that's where they always seem to hit and kill.

Now compare that to the number of traffic deaths and residential units destroyed by fire, divided by their proper state totals. That will give you the rough odds of you being a victim of something much more mundane, of which you presumably do not live in ongoing terror.

Or just go with my estimates: offhand I am guessing that some 3 million people live in Kansas in about 1 million dwellings. I'll guess, completely off the cuff, that we average ten twister deaths a year and thirty residential units destroyed. Do the math on those too. Then ask yourself why you're worrying over something far less likely (and both unpredictable and random) than other hazards against which you can take meaningful precautions.

If a dose of logic and researchable fact can allay your fears, this one should do it. If it's a fear immune to logic and researchable fact, as many are, then I can't be of assistance.
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Old 01-15-2010, 01:42 PM
 
Location: Kansas City North
3,279 posts, read 6,016,403 times
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Homeowners' insurance covers tornado damage (both to buiding and contents) so I would assume renters insurance would cover contents also. Tornados cause destructive damage but in a very small area (unlike a hurricane, where EVERYBODY gets hit). And chances of a tornado which absolutely blows your entire house away (ala the Moore, OK tornado or Greensburg, KS tornado) are so small that I'd worry more about falling out of bed and hitting my head on the bedstand. If you were unfortunate enough to be directly in the line of a tornado, there is a much greater chance for damage to the building than to the contents.

As I've said before, tornados are something to be aware of and respect, but why waste a worry about something you have no control over whatsoever? Life is way too short.
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Old 01-16-2010, 08:21 PM
 
Location: Wichita, KS
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What we do around here is this:

We pay attention to the weather. We listen to the warnings and if need be we take cover. I"ve lived in Kansas most of my life and I've never been in a tornado.

If one hits- you just cope from there just like in any other natural disaster.
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Old 01-16-2010, 08:47 PM
 
Location: Golden, CO
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I agree with all that has been said above. I take precautions, but it just isn't that likely that any one person in particular is going to be hit by a tornado, even one that lives in Kansas.

The likelihood that someone living in Kansas is going to get hit by a tornado each year is almost a certainty, but the likelihood that it will be you is pretty slim.
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Old 01-16-2010, 11:17 PM
 
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I storm chase these things out in Kansas.

The vast majority of tornadoes are not strong enough to destroy a house, or threaten life if you're in a safe location.

And think of it this way..... what are the odds, then, that one of the small percentage of tornadoes in the state can cause this damage actually hits where you live?

The odds aren't good.

I wouldn't worry too much.
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Old 01-17-2010, 01:16 AM
 
Location: Greeley, Colorado
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If you want to avoid twisters then your best bet would be to live in bigger cities like Wichita, Topeka, and Kansas City (KS). Bigger cities like those tend to have far lower chances of getting tornadoes.

Now honestly if you worried about tornadoes in Kansas then should never live in Weld County, Colorado, which is currently THE SINGLE most twister-prone county in ALL the US since 1950.
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:18 AM
 
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don't want to add salt to the wound but most of the damage I have seen recently in Kansas are high straight line winds that blow barns away, and ice storms that cause trees to split and fall on houses in the winter. Unlike a tornado an ice storms affects 100% of the people.
You might also look at the tornado history on the immediate area you are going to live in, as unpredictable as they are they do seem to hit the same communities or parts of a city with some regularity.
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Old 01-17-2010, 11:01 AM
 
3,339 posts, read 6,585,928 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdc1211 View Post
As I consider Kansas as I potential place to live, I can't help but think about tornadoes. It's not that I have never lived in a place where they are possible, just never a place as prone as Kansas.

How can I overcome this fear?

Well, this is a post I can certainly relate to!! We had tornado warnings in Chicago once or twice a year, and I was one of those who ran outside looking for them. Then we moved to Kansas, had some weather related problems with the house, and I developed a fear of severe weather that was so bad I had to see a doctor. It actually progressed into a generalized anxiety disorder which, thankfully, seems to be a lot better now.

I have a beef with the "Wizard of Oz' mythology that equates Kansas with tornadoes. Sure, we are in Tornado Alley. Kanssa ranks third in the number of tornadoes, but that doesn't mean they're a regular occurrence here. They are not. I asked the chief meteorologist for one of the local TV stations about my concerns and this is what he replied: he said your chance of being in a tornado is very very remote, and your chance of ever seeing one is slim, unless you are a storm chaser.

Some years are worse than others for severe weather. The year we moved here, 2007, was pretty bad IMO. Last year, we had no severe storms where we live (south JoCo KS). Our last tornado warning was September 12, 2008. Most warnings do not result in touchdowns, and most touchdowns are not of a magnitude that would destroy your house and all your belongings. Our State Farm agent assured me that the vast majority of tornadoes will peel back a part of a roof, not demolish a well built structure.

Have a look at the following page for county-by-county tornado statistics for the years 1950-2006 -- 58 years:
http://www.crh.noaa.gov/images/ddc/N...W%20packet.pdf

If that data is correct, and note that it is on the NOAA site -- then our county has had 35 reported tornadoes in my lifetime.

Now, I am not trying to calm you to the point where you become complacent. Just be realiztic, and reserve your fear for when it's warranted, not beforehand. A plan is important, but it is important no matter where you live. I would actually feel safer in an apartment than in a house. There are more interior walls, and your apartment management should be able to tell you what to do in the event of a tornado. I would even think there are laws covering that for renters. Your renter's insurance covers your belongings, and the apartment owner's insurance covers the dwelling. Go around your place with a video camera or other camera, open drawers and cupboards, and photograph what you own. The photos will help you remember what to claim for -- if that should be necessary, but again, the chance of that is extremely slim.

Bottom line:

1. Familiarize yourself with the facts, the statistics, and what you must do in the event you hear sirens. Your apartment management should be able to help, and so should your neighbors.

2. Get a NOAA Weather Radio at any hardware store or grocery store, and if you don't want to do that, sign up for a terrific "reverse 911 service" called Weathercall (WeatherCall) It only alerts you to threats in your immediate area, so you won't get freaked out by a warning that is for a situation that is 25 or 30 miles away. We have Weathercall and it is fantastic. It phoned us one time in September 2008, when there was a rotation nearby -- and guess what? That rotation skirted right b y us, never picked up strength and never touched down. I won't deny that I was terrified, but then my storm fears were at their worst at that point.

3. Don't be frightened by hysterical meteorologists on television, especially the crazies on the national cable channels. They're nuts. So are some of the local ones, IMO. They can get you scared witless a week before a storm! Find one you're comfy with and stick to that one. My favorites are Bryan Busby on KMBC and Mark Harman on WDAF.

4. Try not to let your imagination run away with you. I did that, and that's why my fear escalated into something serious. Learn to meditate, divert your attention away from the weather, and arm yourself with information. Accept that fact that storm chasers who love tornadoes don't see them as we do. I have friends who chase. They know I think they're nuts, just like I think they're nuts for freaking out over snow.

5. Try not to think of springtime in Kansas City as "severe weather season". I am sick of people calling it that. For heaven's sake, it's SPRINGTIME, and we're not the only place in America that gets a lot of rain in the spring.

I sure hope I've been able to give you some advice you can use, because I know how logic goes out the window when fear takes over. We have a storm phobic dog, and until we moved to Kansas, I could never empathize with him, and now I know exactly how he feels -- but I have also come a long long way in overcoming irrational fear.

Feel free to send me a private message if you like, and good luck!
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Old 01-17-2010, 11:03 AM
 
3,339 posts, read 6,585,928 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonpeep View Post
I storm chase these things out in Kansas.

The vast majority of tornadoes are not strong enough to destroy a house, or threaten life if you're in a safe location.

And think of it this way..... what are the odds, then, that one of the small percentage of tornadoes in the state can cause this damage actually hits where you live?

The odds aren't good.

I wouldn't worry too much.
Thanks moonpeep -- it's nice to hear something reassuring from a chaser! BTW, one of my chaser friends says she wants to take me on a chase sometime. I'm giving it serious thought, as long as I can get someone to sit with our dogs!
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