Monday, February 05, 2007

Twisters and Trailer Parks

What's with Tornados and Trailer Parks?

When Edmonton was hit with its first ever Tornado it took out Evergreen Trailer Park.

Last weekends three Florida Tornadoes took out Trailer Parks.

David Demar stands in the remains of his mobile home at Lake Mack early Saturday, Feb. 3, 2007 after a killer tornado struck the Paisley, Fla. neighborhood Friday.(AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)

My partner suggested that it is because of location and heat, that is trailer parks are on the outskirts of cities, and that buildings and other urban developments give off heat patterns that do not attract the Tornados.

Mobile homes are cheap housing for the working class, and are not made to the same specifications or building codes as houses.

They are deliberately placed in the path of tornadoes by a sinister conspiracy of capitalists to kill off excess members of the working classes whom they call white trash. (just kidding).

It is actually just that capitalists can't be bothered to build cheap afforable homes, and place them in safe areas.

Picture of the "double tornado" that hit the Midway Trailer Park in Dunlap, Indiana, killing 36.

Picture of the "double tornado" that hit the Midway Trailer Park in Dunlap, Indiana, killing 36.

Here's what some other folks think.

Back in Kentucky, we always called trailers "tornado magnets."

Tornadoes and hurricanes are indeed most frequent in states with many mobile homes. For instance, eight states are in the top eleven for both prefab homes and tornadoes. Furthermore, Florida leads the nation in violent storms and is third in manufactured home purchases.
Statistics from the National Severe Storms Forecast Center in Kansas City show
that from 1975 to 1991 nearly 36% of all tornado deaths occurred in mobile
homes. Tornadoes don't hit mobile homes more often than conventional homes,
but mobile home are just that - mobile.

Is it not within the realm of thinking that the reason trailer parks garner
the most television exposure in regards to tornados, is because
of the higher mortality, and injuries sustained in mobile home vs.
a home of standard construction.
The most significant difference in their construction I would
contend is the "basement", or lack of a basement.

i should also point out that in many places of the southern states, the
water table is too high for houses to have a basement and not have it
flood. in the case of texas, the ground is so hard, u'd need dynamite
and jackhammers to dig a basement. trailer parks and houses on slabs
are more economical to build.

One in 25 Americans live in some kind of mobile structure, mostly in states where there are dozens and dozens of tornadoes each year. Places like the great plains, in general, have lots of folks living in these structures, which are just not built strongly enough to withstand even your run of the mill wind storm, let alone a tornado.

Okay, okay, so if trailers don't attract tornadoes, why do so many trailer parks get hit by tornadoes?

There are probably hundreds(maybe more than a thousand) very small tornadoes that touch down in the USA every year, but are not recorded because they do no damage. However, since a mobile home flips over so easily in even the weakest tornado, trailers probably act as "mini tornado" detectors. This makes it seem like tornadoes are attracted to mobile homes, but that is because trailers are the only things that reveal the presence of what would otherwise be an unrecorded event.

Another reason for trailer homes to pop up as the victims of tornadoes, is that trailer parks are often situated on flat plain-like areas. If you have a valley, more often than not, the trailer park will be situated in its flattest part. Tornadoes also enjoy these same geographical areas.

I don't know about anywhere else, but back in Tulsa, there was a period of time when it seemed like just about every tornado would actually change its path on approach to the city in order to accomodate the position of the trailer parks. Thinking about it later, I realized that it might have been just were the trailer parks are located in the city -- cheap land adjacent to or right near the Arkansaw river. Because of this, you have two contributing factors: 1) the river was on the west side of town and almost every storm (especially tornado producing ones) moves in from the west and 2) the river acted as a barrier against the tornadoes (storms/tornadoes that would tear up towns to the west would effect much less to little damage on Tulsa) so that if a tornado did hit the Tulsa area, the position of the trailer parks ensured that they were set receive a fully powered storm.

I was thinking it could be the history of the areas. Like noone wanted to build houses/buildings in that area because of all the tornadoes, so that made the land cheap enough for someone to start a trailer park there.

Trailer Parks are usually located on flat open ground. Tornadoes travel easier in this type of land. Also trailers are built of cheaper, much less sturdy materials than houses. It does not take nearly as much wind to damage a trailer. Plus most of them have flimsy underpinning. Trailers are built up off the ground a bit. Strong winds can destroy the underpinning and get under a trailer tossing it up and over. The trailer that gets tossed then becomes a weapon when it hits somebody or another trailer.

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