The well-trodden tornado path in US - GulfToday

The well-trodden tornado path in US


Photo used for illustrative purpose.

A tornado in the United States is a regular phenomenon, as regular as the succession of seasons. They occur at regular times and they follow regular paths. They usually occur in April and then again in July. They occur in the Great Plains in the middle of the United States, spreading from Texas in the south to Nebraska in the north. The United States recorded experience of tornadoes has been one of the most well-documented weather events.

Though it is an extreme atmospheric condition that occurs in land when warm temperatures on land collide with cool air temperatures and cook up a thunderstorm and a tornado which travels at a speed of 200 km an hour and leaves destruction in its path. The December 11 tornado that ripped through six states, impacting Kentucky the most has left 90 dead. The death toll is considered the lowest compared to the 700 in 1920.

Experts say that the damage caused by tornadoes has been contained over the years because of greatly improved prediction tools. And predictions have become more accurate than ever because of the Doppler method from the 1980s onward.

Accurate prediction also meant counting the number of tornadoes and super-tornadoes which is a collection of tornadoes acting as one. It is reckoned that there are about a thousand and more tornadoes every year. And the counter-measures included building tornado bunkers beneath the houses and building strong walls to withstand tornado fury.

While climate catastrophe partisans are only too eager to attribute every extreme weather events to climate change fallout, experts think that there is as yet no proven link between the two, and there is need for caution and no room for jumping to conclusions.

The loss of life due to the December 11 tornado is seen in most cases as a general lack of preparation. In many cases, older people living alone, were vulnerable. It has also been pointed out in the United States newspaper reports that not many people had the money to build bunkers and strong walls. It subtly links the victims of natural disasters to poverty levels.

It seems that tornadoes despite their ferocity are treated like regular storms and Americans in the Great Plains in the middle of the country have learned to live with them as those living on the eastern coast have learned to live with snowstorms and blizzards.

There is however a suspicion that the rise in the number of hurricanes and the increasing destruction they cause in the eastern and southern party could be due to changes in climate patterns, and it could be part of the extreme weather events. But as yet, tornadoes are seen as a natural occurrence.

The question remains whether tornadoes can be tamed and their destructive impact reduced with greater scientific understanding of the phenomenon and through technological means? Increase in accuracy in predicting has greatly reduced the loss of life and property. But it would be hard to predict whether tornadoes can be made to disappear and relegated to climate history.

The December 11, 2021 tornado has caused much concern and a national emergency declared because of the widespread destruction it has caused. It has been catastrophic. It is possible that people would expect scientists and technologists to come up with solution to better cope with tornadoes. As quake-resistant building materials and techniques have been found, it would be expected that there should tornado-resistant habitations.

It is the general expectation that science and technology should help people to face natural challenges. Conservatives might say that we are dating nature. Others would say that we are learning to cope with nature. The tornado story in the United States is part of this human beings versus nature saga.

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