Give Me Shelter: Weather Violence Increasing Demand for Safe Rooms


Wayne Sok a hazard mitigation counselor with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) poses next to a Safe Room on display in Grand Island, Neb., Friday June 24, 2004. The room can easily be built in to a home to provide a safe place to shelter during a tornado, hurricane, or high winds. The room is designed to block projectiles that accompany tornadoes or other high-wind storms. (AP Photo/The Independent, Gerik Parmele)

Winter of 2012 not only opened the eyes of America to the movie, “Safe House” satisfying one of the definitions but also to the news of tornadoes ravaging the south and midwest and the reminder of the realization that man has no control over the elements of nature except, to possibly, be fortunate enough to predict them in time to save lives. And in those stories from the survivors we heard of the safe-house or safe-room fitting the second definition. Of all the forces of nature, a tornado is one of the most treacherous and feared, and there is potential for one whenever there is a thunderstorm. It is so feared that there is a phobia called Lilapsophobia which is the fear of hurricanes and tornadoes. The anxiety is partly caused due to a tornado developing from what seems like a normal thunderstorm and produces a haphazard and unpredictable path of destruction.

Tornadoes vary by location across the United States and all fifty states have experienced them. The intensity of the tornado is related to the intensity of the thunderstorm, a convective storm. The sun heats the surface creating latent heat to supply fuel for massive thunderstorms. The storms are dependent on solar heating which contributes to tornadoes being most common in spring and summer and in the late afternoon and evening, though they can occur any time of the day and night. According to the “Glossary of Meteorology” (AMS 2000), a tornado is “a violently rotating column of air, pendant from a cumuliform cloud or underneath a cumuliform cloud, and often (but not always) visible as a funnel cloud.” Literally, in order for a vortex to be classified as a tornado, it must be in contact with the ground and the cloud base. The average length of a tornado is only five to thirty minutes, most lasting less then ten.

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Posted by on May 1st, 2012 and filed under Feature Story. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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