Quote of the week – misplaced priorities

One of the most shocking stories to come out of the Oklahoma tornado this week is this one. The mind reels that in the middle of tornado alley, in a place where a previous F5 tornado devastated the town in 1999, no safe room existed in the school.

school_no_shelter

Full story: http://houston.cbslocal.com/2013/05/22/school-where-7-students-died-lacked-tornado-safe-room/

Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. puts the issue into perspective with our QOTW:

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83 thoughts on “Quote of the week – misplaced priorities

  1. But you can’t get science grants, media headlines or speeches by Al Gore for funding a tornado shelter.

  2. I really miss the insight, clarity and incisiveness of Roger Pielke, Snr’s posts at his blog.

  3. Reblogged this on This Got My Attention and commented:
    Priorities! Money spent to subsidize electric cars is money that cannot be spent building tornado shelters. The true cost of wasting money on “climate change” projects is the value of higher priority projects that are not undertaken. Opportunity Cost, folks. That’s economics 101.

  4. Common sense has been dead for sometime. It’s about power and control and nothing more. Maybe someday 51% of the sheeple will wake up.

  5. So, you’re telling me those, who usually scream loudest “Think of the children!” don’t really care about them?

    Jeez, what a shocker. Oh wait, no, it’s not. Just as expected.

  6. As a believer in limited government, I’d argue that the federal government shouldn’t provide grants for tornado shelters.

    I’d also argue that schools should have such shelters.

    I would note further that, as I understand it, the kids who died were in the basement, and drowned when they couldn’t escape rising water which leads me to wonder if the sprinkler system designed to save them from fires killed them (although it wouldn’t have without the tornado.) So, take this infrmation into account when implementing the tornado shelter.

    Oh yeah, one last thing. No matter what, we can’t keep everybody safe all of the time. So let’s decide what’s acceptable risk before we spend a gazillion more dollars and do only what’s reasonable. I positively abhor the phrase “if it saves one life, it’s worth it”. ‘Cuz it’s not true, but it gets used to excuse exorbitant leveles of public expenditures on a routine basis.

  7. It is my understanding that 7 children actually survived the tornado but died from drowning when the basement space they were in flooded from broken water pipes. The walls of the building carry pipes for water fountains, sinks, toilets, etc. When these pipes ruptured from storm damage, the water apparently flooded the basement space where these children had taken shelter and they were drowned. Had there been adequate drainage in that space, those children would have likely survived.

  8. He has a good retort for those who always want to make AGW about “the children”. Mann, Gore, Hansen et.al. got rich on the money that would have been more wisely spent on simple precautions from weather events. Events that predate the industrial age of man.

  9. It is ironic and tragic that the FEMA Pamphlet P-431, Tornado Protection: Selecting Refuge Areas in Buildings, included Kelly Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma and its performance in the 1999 tornado as one of its case studies. Pointless climate projections aside, I think it’s safe to say that more lives have been saved by improved tornado forecasts and warnings than by the construction of tornado shelters. That being said, it escapes me why, following the tragedy of the 1999 tornado, Moore’s schools would not have invested in constructing refuge areas in their buildings. Maybe they did, but it’s difficult to plan for the devastation of an EF-5.

  10. If you travel across Oklahoma in I-40 you will notice signs on the interstate that point out tornado shelters. These shelters are at roadside rest areas and are basically a sort of igloo shape covered with dirt with grass growing on it. It looks like a rolling hillock from outside. The problem is that they don’t hold many people, maybe 20, and they take up a lot of space.

    The Plaza Towers school apparently had an evacuation plan to get the kids to safer shelter. The 4th, 5th, and 6th graders had already been evacuated to stronger shelter nearby and suffered no casualties. The problem was that the tornado bore down on the school before the youngest ones could be evacuated. The younger ones are generally the slowest to travel so rather than hold up everyone behind them, you let the faster ones who need the least supervision go first. This sounds sad but it has the potential to save more lives overall. You reserve the larger number of staff to supervise the movement of the smallest kids last because they take the longest time to move and require the most supervision.

    Still, most survived the actual tornado and the cause of most of the deaths was drowning due to being trapped in a confined space that was filling with water.

  11. That being said, it escapes me why, following the tragedy of the 1999 tornado, Moore’s schools would not have invested in constructing refuge areas in their buildings. Maybe they did, but it’s difficult to plan for the devastation of an EF-5.

    The Plaza Towers Elementary school was built in 1966.

  12. Terrible as it sounds, the low death toll has to be considered a remarkable success. Reading the article it appears that there was quite a good warning period and good use was made of it to get the vast majority of people away from the area or into safe rooms. This was a very very big tornado and it hit a major population area. The low death toll is not due to luck, but good preparation.

    As Crosspatch pointed out, the seven children appear to have been in a basement which survived the tornado, but was later flooded. This is tragic and I am sure lessons will be learned for the future, but the sad fact is that we cannot think of every eventuality beforehand and some things we only learn through sad experience.

  13. Heard a strange discussion regarding this event on talk radio this morning. The interviewers were talking with an insurance investigator when one interviewer asked whether the lack of a shelter might increase insurance costs. The discussion concerned damaged to structures and loss of property, so the remark was particularly strange. Short of building the entire house as a shelter, there is no way to protect yourself from property damage from an EF-4 or EF-5 tornado.

  14. I’m on the other side of the world and as I wrote before I found out about the lack of shelters, I’m not amused.

    What on Earth possessed building regulators to NOT require adequate shelters in an area that’s got a history of intense, destructive storms? Why were the people left unprepared for a “regular” event? Unprepared not only in lack of shelters, but also timely notification and a knowledge of what it means to live in such an area?

    Surely they didn’t expect the government to prevent “extreme weather”.

    Christmas 1974, a cyclone levelled most of the Australian city of Darwin. It was rebuilt. Stronger; with most buildings able to survive inevitable repeats of such severe cyclones.

  15. I remember seeing a documentary some years ago about the hurricane preparations in Cuba, when compared with neighboring islands. One of the significant things was that in Cuba, the electricity providers are required to cut power in storm paths, and this significantly saves lives.

    With this tornado, and with Sandy a while ago, damage to live power supplies caused a lot of damage, mainly through fire. Would it not be sensible to consider such an approach in the USA?

  16. The governor was caught off guard by this. She believed that every school had reinforced hallways to serve as shelters as well as one or two dedicated rooms, such as a cafeteria or auditorium. Hence her early optimism about survivors. She was not aware this school was built before that became standard policy.Very sad. Let us hope every school board has learned a lesson here.
    And another common fail point was the metal roof rafters. They failed miserably everywhere. No more protection than wooden stick-built rafters and far less than a truss system. Until a better design is created, perhaps they should have a poured concrete roof or floor section over the safe rooms.

  17. Also, with regard to Moore not providing better shelter subsequent to 1999: There are a LOT of towns in Oklahoma besides Moore. Oklahoma gets a lot of tornadoes in May. This would be a bigger challenge than just Moore. If you look at it statistically, it is rare for a school in Oklahoma to be hit while school is in session despite the large number of tornadoes. In 1999, schools were not in session when the tornado went through. That two EF5 tornadoes have hit the same town in living memory is unusual. The two storms did not follow the same track but the intersection of the two tracks is the town of Moore.

    I can’t help but notice that the tornado never made it across the large lake Northeast of town. I wonder if large lakes might be an effective tornado barrier for large populated areas if they act to disrupt strong convection.

  18. doesn’t OK have a water table level issue that makes it really hard to build any sort of basement/below grade shelter?

  19. Bernd, putting it in perspective. Getting hit by a tornado is a once-in-a-number-of-lifetimes event. While I lived in tornado alley my first 20 years, I only saw one off in the distance ever. There are numerous buildings in Oklahoma that date back over a century yet have never been struck by a tornado. There are less than 100 severe tornados annually in all of America, and the majority of them touch nothing.

    As far as deaths go, Tornados rank pretty low on the chances of killing you.

    Compared to fire code, tornado code isn’t high on the priority list.

  20. Perhaps this is what Topher Fields proposes to cover in his video. If the theme is “better to adapt” than to try to prevent global warming, it would be good to know what “adapt” mean, specifically. It strikes me as strange that NPR should get way out in front on this issue. Their report this morning covered the use of hurricane clips and foundation straps in building in tornado alleys. Approximate costs are a few hundred dollars per house. If people are going to build in what is known to be a dangerous place, they can be “encouraged” to build safer. I don’t know if this is advice to government or just to risk-takers, but… jeez, let’s learn from our mistakes!

  21. Yes, investigating an issue that a significant minority of scientists believe is a threat to modern civilization is clearly the thing we should drop. Bravo, Roger.

    Is this the only time the right will agree to increases in school funding? At the cost of science funding?

  22. I noted with disgust the coverage by NBC News last night — it took them about 24 hours before they started reporting on the “questions being raised” about the lack of safe rooms in Oklahoma and “what we should be doing” in that regard. Brian Williams and his crew from New York swooped into Moore — based on a model of making money from showing video of disasters — and probed that critical issue. Never mind that rescue workers were still pulling people out of rubble. I don’t recall Mr. Williams and his fellow New Yorkers and New Jersey folks saying much about the stupidity of locating houses a few feet above the mean high tide line on the East Coast. How can I fail to conclude that the message is “People in Oklahoma are stupid and need our guidance; people in New Jersey are smart and clever and require unlimited government financial assistance.”

  23. dmacleo says:
    May 22, 2013 at 9:58 am

    doesn’t OK have a water table level issue that makes it really hard to build any sort of basement/below grade shelter?
    __________________________
    No. Witness this school had a basement… There are some areas in the state that have water table or bedrock issues, just like everywhere else.
    FWIW, Oklahoma is about the most ecologically diverse area in the United States, or on the planet, for that matter.

  24. Reblogged this on Sunrise's Swansong and commented:
    Considering the money our government wastes on “green energy” businesses, which then go belly-up, and wastes on plum-grants to so-called “climate scientists,” who then refuse to show their data even in the face of FOI laws, and who produce forecasts which fail to verify, it seems a very great shame that children die because their schools lack storm cellars, NYC’s subways flood because they lack storm barriets, and New Orleans’s levees fail because recommended improvement aren’t made.

  25. Protecting students from no other thing than having consensual sex seems to be the top priority of the US education system. Gunmen can just stroll into the no gun zones and turn them into shooting galleries and tornadoes are invited to come in and have their way as well. What does that say about a nation?

  26. Reblogged this on my site with the following comment:

    Considering the money our government wastes on “green energy” businesses, which then go belly-up, and wastes on plum-grants to so-called “climate scientists,” who then refuse to show their data even in the face of FOI laws, and who produce forecasts which fail to verify, it seems a very great shame that children die because their schools lack storm cellars, NYC’s subways flood because they lack storm barriers, and New Orleans’s levees fail because recommended improvement aren’t made.

  27. Ryan says:
    May 22, 2013 at 10:00 am
    “Yes, investigating an issue that a significant minority of scientists believe is a threat to modern civilization is clearly the thing we should drop. Bravo, Roger.

    Is this the only time the right will agree to increases in school funding? At the cost of science funding?”
    ______________________
    That’s an asinine statement.

  28. steveta_uk says:
    May 22, 2013 at 9:44 am


    With this tornado, and with Sandy a while ago, damage to live power supplies caused a lot of damage, mainly through fire. Would it not be sensible to consider such an approach in the USA?

    Dunno, but In Central MS, mid 90’s, before half the roof was torn off of my granddad’s house by a tornado, I was out front marveling at the lightning and became alarmed at this one region that was almost black by comparison. I knew that I was along the most likely path from the sightings reported on the NOAA radio. Before hunkering down, the first thing I did was to throw the main breakers to the house. Visions of tube and post wiring in the attic frightened me since I did not know if they were still being used.

  29. Bill Parsons says:
    May 22, 2013 at 9:59 am
    “Their report this morning covered the use of hurricane clips and foundation straps in building in tornado alleys. Approximate costs are a few hundred dollars per house. ”

    Unfortunately, when winds are 150+ mph walls blow down. Roofing clips, straps and the like are of little use in those winds.

  30. It is no surprise at all, if one sits down and examines the needs of Agenda 21. There are too many people, so dying from natural causes or events if okay. They do not want anyone living in that part of the country anyhow. They want it to be dangerous and force everybody to the few tiny cities they will allow. Very simply, storm shelters are not sustainable, in their books.

    Nope, no surprise.

  31. Well a colleague of mine, has his mother and sister, living in that area of Oklahoma, in a house his grandfather built decades ago..

    During the storm and the actual tornado demolition of that town, my friend was on the cell phone talking with his mother and sister, who were right in the middle of the same storm complex, although not right where the tornado struck; and they were inside the storm room that his grandpa built into their house. They had also spent the entire previous night inside that room. It is 10 x 7 feet, made of steel reinforced concrete block construction, with a steel door.

    I’m not into arguing about the appropriateness of federally funded useless research in lieu of federally funded safety provisions.

    Taxation for community needs, should be determined locally, raised locally, and used locally, by communities, , who can best decide what their community need priorities are.

    Both Federal and State governments should butt out of taxing local community people to then fund, at fed or state level, completely unrelated issues.

    The feds, are supposed to provide and maintain a military for national defense; not tornado shelters which probably aren’t needed in Alaska or Maine..

    It certainly sounds like these school students were the unfortunate victims of a Fukushima Emergency System Design SNAFU..

    Well we can as Americans typically do, pitch in and support the recovery of this devastated community; sans politics

  32. Dumb question: why are grants for tornado shelters in Oklahoma needed at all? This has been a known hazard of the area since it was first settled. Why weren’t storm shelters a standard requirement at the time the school was built?

  33. Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says:
    May 22, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Dumb question: why are grants for tornado shelters in Oklahoma needed at all? This has been a known hazard of the area since it was first settled. Why weren’t storm shelters a standard requirement at the time the school was built?
    ________________________
    This school had a basement, which served as shelter. The children were killed by drowning.
    AFAIK, at this time, the only known deaths of children were off site, i.e. a toddler was killed with parents at a nearby 7-11 store, and another death of a child offsite, I think.

  34. Do we really need to spend millions, maybe billions of dollars retrofitting schools in tornado prone areas with safe rooms? How many lives would that save annually on average? Maybe 2 or 3? I know human lives are priceless, but I also think there are far less expensive ways we can spend money and save lives as well.

  35. This is a great example of why Adaptation and Mitigation are better strategies for dealing with climate change than attempts at Prevention. If you build a shelter to protect you from additional tornadoes that some model predicts to occur in the future, you are protected. If you drive an electric car and destroy the fossil fuel economy to try to prevent climate change and the tornado strikes anyway, you are screwed.

  36. Matt says:
    May 22, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Do we really need to spend millions, maybe billions of dollars retrofitting schools in tornado prone areas with safe rooms? How many lives would that save annually on average? Maybe 2 or 3? I know human lives are priceless, but I also think there are far less expensive ways we can spend money and save lives as well.
    _________________
    Don’t worry about it, Matt. Oklahomans are taking care of business, as usual.
    We certainly appreciate all the wonderful help and extended hands from around the nation and the world.

  37. Luther Wu says:
    May 22, 2013 at 10:16 am
    dmacleo says:
    May 22, 2013 at 9:58 am

    doesn’t OK have a water table level issue that makes it really hard to build any sort of basement/below grade shelter?
    __________________________
    No. Witness this school had a basement… There are some areas in the state that have water table or bedrock issues, just like everywhere else.
    FWIW, Oklahoma is about the most ecologically diverse area in the United States, or on the planet, for that matter.

    ******************************************

    The school in Moore that took a direct hit from the tornado on Monday DID NOT have a basement. This was discussed in a press conference on Tuesday with school officials. And dmacleo is correct. Also, Oklahoma has a lot a clay in the soil that makes basements difficult.

    Jackie Crow
    Oklahoma City

  38. crosspatch says:
    May 22, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I can’t help but notice that the tornado never made it across the large lake Northeast of town. I wonder if large lakes might be an effective tornado barrier for large populated areas if they act to disrupt strong convection.

    Tornadoes, like many emergent climate phenomena, appear when the surface is hot compared to the upper air. They move immense amounts of heat from the surface to various parts of the atmosphere.

    Since the lake will generally be colder than the surrounding land, a tornado will likely either go around it or lift off the ground and perhaps even drop back down on the other side.

    w.

  39. I need to double check news sources, then… thought I was hearing the latest.
    I have been giving out mistaken information. However, yes, clay soils can be unstable, but there are basements in Oklahoma clay soils.
    I am also in Oklahoma City.

  40. dmacleo says:
    May 22, 2013 at 9:58 am

    doesn’t OK have a water table level issue that makes it really hard to build any sort of basement/below grade shelter?
    __________________
    Some areas do have water table issues and some areas have clay soils which make such structures more difficult, but there are many basements and below grade shelters (cellars) in Oklahoma. In the 50’s, before my parents built a cellar, we went down the street to a friend’s cellar. I had a home in Payne County on very heavy clay soils and that property had/has an underground storm cellar. Many buildings in Payne County had basements, as they do here in Oklahoma County.

  41. Ryan says:
    May 22, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Yes, investigating an issue that a significant minority of scientists believe is a threat to modern civilization is clearly the thing we should drop. Bravo, Roger.

    It seems to me that it’s those scientists that are a threat to modern civilization, not the “issue”. After all, it’s the manic catastrophists who believe that we should shun secure electricity supplies and, without those, we’re all destined to live in caves (at least, those of us who survive).

  42. Tom in Florida says:
    May 22, 2013 at 10:36 am
    Bill Parsons says:
    May 22, 2013 at 9:59 am
    “Their report this morning covered the use of hurricane clips and foundation straps in building in tornado alleys. Approximate costs are a few hundred dollars per house. ”

    Unfortunately, when winds are 150+ mph walls blow down. Roofing clips, straps and the like are of little use in those winds.

    Maybe it depends on the walls. One thing for sure, if you lose your roof, your walls are next.

    This was an engineer reporting to NPR this morning. All I can say is, if I lived down there, this would be one of the mitigations I’d consider for my house. People have to make their own decisions about what’s worth it for them. To save the lives of my family, I’d be in a shelter. But if my goal were to preserve some of my property value, I’d be in the tornado shelter.

    Popular Mechanics on the same method:

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/improvement/interior/8-ways-to-protect-your-home-against-tornadoes-and-hurricanes-keep-your-lid-on#slide-4

    Effectiveness: Uplift protection ranges from 400 to 1500 pounds or more, depending on the clip.

  43. Moderator, could you please delete my comment above?

    Tom in Florida says:
    May 22, 2013 at 10:36 am
    Bill Parsons says:
    May 22, 2013 at 9:59 am
    “Their report this morning covered the use of hurricane clips and foundation straps in building in tornado alleys. Approximate costs are a few hundred dollars per house. ”

    Unfortunately, when winds are 150+ mph walls blow down. Roofing clips, straps and the like are of little use in those winds.

    Maybe it depends on the walls. One thing for sure, if you lose your roof, your walls are next.

    This was an engineer reporting to NPR this morning. All I can say is, if I lived down there, this would be one of the mitigations I’d consider for my house. People have to make their own decisions about what’s worth it for them. To save the lives of my family, I’d be in a shelter. But if my goal were to preserve some of my property value, I’d build in a few safeguards.

    Popular Mechanics on the same method:

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/improvement/interior/8-ways-to-protect-your-home-against-tornadoes-and-hurricanes-keep-your-lid-on#slide-4

    Effectiveness: Uplift protection ranges from 400 to 1500 pounds or more, depending on the clip.

  44. 30 years ago, I participated in the design of a new school somewhere in southern Mississippi. With the threat of hurricanes in the area, the design incorporated a reinforced central corridor to act as a shelter in emergency situations. The doors at either end were also doubled and reinforced. This added a minimal amount to the overall cost, something like $60,000 out of a $3.2 million dollar budget; less than 2%. It is my understanding that our design weathered Katrina without a single crack in any of the walls or ceiling, even though the remainder of the building was destroyed!!! Give engineers a challenge, and a bit of money to work with, and we can solve the simple problems like keeping kids safe in school.

  45. I do think it is a good idea to have a hardened area in schools to serve as a shelter and not only to protect students, schools are frequently used as shelters in many areas during and following disasters. That said, tornado safe rooms have their limits. This was an EF-5 tornado and the destructive power of such a storm is so incredible that it is hard to even comprehend. It’s possible a tornado shelter would’ve saved lives but it’s also possible that it wouldn’t. There are no guarantees with a storm of this magnitude.

  46. I know Maddow is not popular here (I disagree with 1/2 the time) but she did do a good segment on lack of tornado safe rooms in Moore and how they saved lives in itty bitty Tushka, Oklahoma near Atoka. I happened to catch it on Sirius radio and hunted it down. She points out the difficulty Moore was having with FEMA up to this February with the safe room grants.

    http://once.unicornmedia.com/now/od/auto/3aaae01e-e0f4-439d-aa7a-8d5e3e774105/db6630fb-4bb5-45b9-ba6e-04014bcf7f30/n_maddow_3surviv_130521/n_maddow_3surviv_130521.once?UMADPARAMsite=17258&UMADPARAMzone=53171

  47. Those Tornado Clips will do NOTHING for a roof or wall when that wall or roof is hit with an airborne Chevy Suburban, Ford Explorer, and a Toyota Prius at speeds of 250+ mph in quick succession. The clip may survive, but that is the only thing you will have left.

    There is just nothing you can do to an above ground structure in the face of an EF5 monster. Like the comedian Ron White once said, “It isn’t THAT the wind is blowing, it is WHAT the wind is blowing. If you get hit with a Volvo, it doesn’t matter if you did 200 push-ups that morning.”

    -GKR

  48. Hurricane clips and anchors wouldn’t protect against a direct hit, but would be of value in marginal situations, where the tornado passes nearby. Such winds reach only hurricane speeds. Probably five or ten houses are affected by such speeds for every one that is directly hit.

    milodonharlani says:
    May 22, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Same goes for New York City’s lack of a storm surge barrier.

    Especially since NYC was specifically warned by a 2009 (?) report to build such a barrier. The response of govt. (and maybe of Bloomberg specifically) was to commission a counter-report from the Greenies at Columbia U. that pooh-poohed the idea.

  49. Not to sound cold hearted (I lived in Oklahoma for 25 years and still have family there) — every year 40,000 people die on our nations roads. Risk is largely a matter of perception. Statistically, we should be far more concerned about getting behind the wheel of our car on our drive home from work tonight then being hit by a tornado. And yet how many of us really understand the dangers that we face each and every day? I imagine that everyday we engage in behavior that presents very high statistical risks, but are unaware of doing so.

  50. How much more expensive is it to build a tornado proof (or even highly resistant) structure in a school, a room that is big enough for all the students plus the staff?

    Very heavy reinforced pre-stressed concrete walls and roof would probably be required to be safe under the effects of one of these class EF-5 monsters.

    That sort of thing does not come cheap, especially for a space like the gymnasium.

  51. ” … no [EF5-rated] safe room existed in the school.

    There. Fixed it.

    Would have survived an EF3 I’l wager …

  52. DanF says May 22, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Give engineers a challenge, and a bit of money to work with, and we can solve the simple problems like keeping kids safe in school.

    Dan, what was the building designed-for top-wind-speed-wise?

    PS. Bear in mind Hurricane-rated (perhaps somewhere inland) vs EF5 twister rated.

    .

  53. Jackie Crow says May 22, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Also, Oklahoma has a lot a clay in the soil that makes basements difficult.

    If Oklahoma’s ancient history is anything like North Texas (and some of it is) THEN this was all ancient sea bed at one time and that means LIMESTONE (literally: ‘rock’) beneath that ‘clay’ soil.

    Diggin that ain’t easy … and neither is driving ‘ground rods’ to any depth.

    Doable, but at a cost.
    .

  54. pat says May 22, 2013 at 9:50 am

    The governor was caught off guard by this. She believed that every school had reinforced hallways to serve as shelters as well as one or two dedicated rooms,

    This sound like a big s-t-r-e-t-c-h pat. Normally you aren’t this hyperbolic.Post hoc, ergo propter hoc as well?

    If preparations for SAFE shelters wasn’t started 3 years ago in the capital allocation cycle, it’s just a little too late a couple minutes AFTER the stove-pipe or ‘wedge’ tornado forms off to one’s (the school’s in this case) westerly direction … on top of that, when was she elected?

    .

  55. Maybe a few solar panels or windmills would have saved the school?

    (Sorry. It’s a tragedy and I don’t mean to make light of it. But isn’t putting tax dollars into such things instead of improving protection from such weather events the “solution” the Boxers and Hansenites are promoting?)

  56. maybe it was the drainage issues related to the clay content I was thinking of, been so long since friends there mentioned it I wasn’t sure.
    thanks all.

  57. george e. smith says May 22, 2013 at 10:47 am

    It certainly sounds like these school students were the unfortunate victims of a Fukushima Emergency System Design SNAFU..

    How rare are EF5 tornado events again george e. smith?

    EVERY school between Oklahoma and Ohio (yes, Xenia OH in 1974 was rated an “F5″) down into Alabama needs to be reviewed again for EF5 tornado survival-safety given your logic in this … and I’m not saying I’m against this, just stating what *should* be known and should be obvious.

    Then we move on to other public-occupancy spaces, like shopping malls and shopping centers, then anyplace where it is possible people in other ‘groups’ could be killed or injured en masse like factories and the like … and last but not least, ALL personal residences … where does it stop?

    It’s kinda like AGW, what ‘level’ of preventative measures (the precautionary principle) do you incorporate? That’s the debate that’s needed. The cost-to-benefit ratio one.

    .

    PS Fukushima was a snafu. I think plans originally called for facilities to be mounted further back and up the embankment, but …
    .

  58. Jack Maloney says:
    May 22, 2013 at 9:05 am
    But you can’t get science grants, media headlines or speeches by Al Gore for funding a tornado shelter.

    Yeah, exactly, and this DESPITE the fact that according to the constantly bleated ‘consensus’ – that extreme weather events and tornadoes will and are increasing (even though they are not) – the situation is so thick with irony and hypocrisy as to be immensely sad and distressing.

  59. Tragic loses, but were there lessons learned. Not sure listening to the governor today on Fox News. Adults are entitled to be stupid, children need to be protected. Government buildings in dangerous areas must be safer. No, I’m not bill o’reilly.

  60. Experts say “Hurricane clips connect the top plate to trusses or rafters”
    Why not extend the clips down to the studs that are underneath the top plate, like I’ve done in my house? The plates have just a couple of vertical nails into the studs, and those nails can easily pull out. The studs are very much stronger. I think the “experts” are wrong here.

  61. Cross patch, I jumped to the same spot wrt to the lake. Not sure why that would happen.

  62. Regarding a safe house in a basement and flooding…. This is a well known problem. It is not one of those things that people haven’t thought of. In fact if you go to the website of any above ground safe house manufacturer, the first thing they point out is the problem with flooding, if you get trapped in an underground shelter (very foreseeable with debris everywhere). It really does not take that much steel to make an above ground safe house to handle an F5, and above ground retrofits are not that expensive. The fact this school was built in 1966 is not an excuse (in my opinion) once I read how little steel it takes to withstand an F5 and how retrofits are not that expensive.

    Since I live where we get tornado warnings one or twice a year, I am seriously thinking about a steel safe house retrofit of my master bedroom closet.

    And since I am not one of these people who think government should be drowned in a bathtub, I would have no problem with government programs (state or federal) to help with the installation of safe houses. Taxes well spent.

  63. DanF points out that it’s straight forward to engineer buildings with robust shelters incorporated in the structure; for a very small incremental cost. The rest of the building can no doubt be built to withstand lesser tornadoes; with only superficial damage.

    Where I live (Western Australia), general structures have to be designed to withstand 50-year weather events. Public and significant infrastructure are engineered to withstand 100-year events.

    The substantial problem with high winds is the impact of flying objects. Storm-prone areas should already have shutters that can be closed to protect windows and the everyday doors; not primarily against the wind, but against projectiles. If adequate warning is normally available, then the shutters can be secured boards, firmly attached to the building by e.g. residents at short (e.g. hour’s) notice. Obviously; if a storm warning is short and/or the residents not available to secure their homes, then the houses are likely to suffer severe damage.

    Permanently-fitted, exterior storm shutters, typically hinged, are a feature of many buildings in tropical storm regions. If a neighbour notices that a house’s shutters haven’t been closed, then they can close a dozen shutters in 5 minutes; after closing their own.

    Public and business buildings potentially need “automatic” shutters if the buildings are large; but they should be pre-fitted, ready to close at a moment’s notice. Shuttering systems may be dual-purpose; as regular building security measures so their costs are quick to recover.

    It is safe to assume that everything outside, that is not fixed to the ground, will become a projectile. Things that are fixed but are not structures designed to withstand the storm, may break an become a projectile.

  64. If I lived in Oklahoma, I would look into building a monolithic house. I know there are monolithic schools in some areas also. In fact, if I were starting out again in a wildfire prone area, I would go for a monolithic house. Good for earthquakes too.

  65. A few observations from an Oklahoma resident…

    – some comments have already mentioned that the school did not have a basement and the children were not drowned. This article (http://newsok.com/oklahoma-tornado-names-of-dead-released-missing-individuals-located/article/3829508) specifically mentions that the cause of death was mechanixal asphyxia or suffication and not drowning.
    – everyone has priorities and OKC residents have been voting for a special sales tax since 1993 to fund specific projects. I think they are on the fourth round of funding (3 specific series of projects and an extension). “MAPS for Kids” was very specific – improve the schools. While the majority of the sales tax went to OKC schools, the City sent money to the suburbs to help their schools. Most OKC money went to construction/renovation of schools as well as computers and other items. The City of Moore received a large amount of money (at least $33 million) but I am not sure how they spent it – but it may have been more important to improve the education process instead of the buildings. Their choice.
    – since the May 99 tornado, there has been an increase interest in safe rooms and storm shelters. I think many of the newer homes offer these features. To retro-fit an older house, one interesting option is to break up the concrete slab in your garage, dig a hole and place a prefab unit with a sliding cover in the hole. In my community, you can register the shelter (I think the police come over and take a gps reading of the location). I heard on many reports that the Moore police were taking their list of registered shelters and locating them to ensure that no one was buried under the debris. So there has been an increase in the number of safe rooms and below ground shelters. But, it is still my cost to improve my home. I don’t accept the concept of a handout from others.
    – water and tornadoes – I can tell you that tornadoes do attack boat clubs and marinas. Our boat club on Lake Hefner was hit by a F0 storm. Boats that were not staked down flew all over the place and caused damage. But, I also saw properly secured boats sawed in half. On Lake Thunderbird, many boats were lost in 2010 to a tornado.

    Our community is blessed with three TV stations that love to compete on weather coverage – they all put helicopters up to film the storm, broadcast ALL THE TIME and tell you which street the storm is coming down. On Sunday, my hiding spot was all ready for me to duck into, but I was still watching the TV for the location. The storm passed under 2 miles from me – no big deal. Our local guys do great – I don’t rely on the NWS to issue warnings. After a while, even a “transplant” gets to know the feeling of a bad weather day. However, outside of OK, I sure get nervous with the lack of communication on storms.

    Every area has challenges but I’ll take the tornadoes. Don’t like the earthquakes and constant wildfires of CA, tropical storms and flash floods of the east, snow/ice storms of the north…oh wait – I have experienced all of those in Oklahoma. At least, I don’t think I have to worry about a tsumani.

  66. The US is behind e rest of the developed world in funding computer models that can predict these sort of storms. It is very likely that the early warning of this event was made possible by the European mid range weather forecasting model.

    Unfortunately it appears that ideological stances by politicians are against government funding effective computer prediction AND school shelters.

  67. izen says:
    May 22, 2013 at 11:51 pm
    “The US is behind e rest of the developed world in funding computer models that can predict these sort of storms. It is very likely that the early warning of this event was made possible by the European mid range weather forecasting model.”

    Izen, the mystery man. It is really below you to give us a link or tell us the name of said model, I understand.

    So we will have to wait for the next time you drop one of your timeless wisdoms.

  68. izen says:
    May 22, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    The US is behind e(sic) rest of the developed world in funding computer models that can predict these sort of storms. It is very likely that the early warning of this event was made possible by the European mid range weather forecasting model.

    Unfortunately it appears that ideological stances by politicians are against government funding effective computer prediction AND school shelters.

    Interesting that you claim that. See, there are almost no tornadoes in the rest of the world: the wind patterns, local storm patterns, and cold air passing in a front over hot, moist air simply doesn’t happen other places in the world. Most particularly, there are virtually no tornadoes in European weather patterns nor European history.

    So, why, pray tell, would the Europeans fund expensive regional climate/weather models that would be able to predict tornadoes?

    (33 millions were recently sent to that city for school upgrades and modernization. Please let me know how much of it was wasted (er, spent) on “climate change” protocols and teachings and zen-climate studies and government-demanded climate feel-good sessions and classes? 33 million alone wasted in increased school bus fuel costs, lighting changes, reduced taxes from a bad economy for 6 years BECAUSE of your CAGW themes, loss of tax base and loss of home investments and home worth CAUSED BY your CAGW government practices ……

  69. Oh. The US government’s Doppler radars and Doppler radar warning systems ARE world class: The coverage WAS actually seen on screen and warnings ACTUALLY sent some 45 minutes BEFORE the tornadoes swarm struck.

    Computer models, on the other hand, WOULD NOT HAVE DONE ANYTHING. (They would, however, have predicted other computer simulations that would have predicted many thousand false warnings of non-existent future tornadoes.

  70. izen says:
    May 22, 2013 at 11:51 pm
    Unfortunately it appears that ideological stances by politicians are against government funding effective computer prediction AND school shelters.
    ============
    Nonsense. Governments don’t fund anything. It is Taxpayers that pay the price. Governments by and large simply piss the money away because it isn’t their money. No amount of tornado prediction is going to help if you don’t have a safe place to ride it out. No amount of flood or hurricane prediction is going to help if the roads are clogged with traffic trying to escape.

    Common sense tells you that buildings need to be built strong enough to withstand natural disasters. Building built in flood zones should be built on stilts and buildings built in tornado alley should be built with tornado shelters. Common sense also tells you that the function of government is to make sure that buildings are built in this manner.

    However, what we have is politicians running around after that fact, trying to blame natural disasters on the public for driving cars to make a living and producing CO2 in the process. The failure lies squarely with the governments for not mandating common sense building standards in areas prone to natural disasters.

    No matter how much we cut CO2, we are not going to prevent tornadoes or hurricanes. They have been around much longer than humans have been burning fossil fuels. The time has come for politicians to stop pointing fingers at other people and start point the finger at themselves.

  71. “The US is behind e rest of the developed world in funding computer models that can predict these sort of storms. It is very likely that the early warning of this event was made possible by the European mid range weather forecasting model.”

    Are You joking? Since I live in ECMWF-land I know it can’t even reliably forecast major storms a few days ahead, much less small-scale events like tornados.

  72. @- DirkH
    “Izen, the mystery man. It is really below you to give us a link or tell us the name of said model, I understand.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/second-rate-us-numerical-weather-prediction-why-you-should-care/2013/02/26/d63dc4fc-7f80-11e2-a350-49866afab584_blog.html

    Good local prediction requires very high speed and size computers to calculate multiple senarios to give good probalistic forcast, the only type possible when the forecast exceeds the simply deterministic and extends a few days ahead into the chaotic regime.

    But the big mistake in this quote is to think there is any kind of either/or choice. Governments have to invest in basic research, it is not done by business. They also have to invest in communal protection.

  73. Liz says:
    May 22, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    “A few observations from an Oklahoma resident…
    Every area has challenges but I’ll take the tornadoes. Don’t like the earthquakes and constant wildfires of CA, tropical storms and flash floods of the east, snow/ice storms of the north…oh wait – I have experienced all of those in Oklahoma. At least, I don’t think I have to worry about a tsumani.”
    ____________________
    Some have asked “What’s next, volcanoes?”

  74. Governments have to invest in basic research, it is not done by business.
    [Izen, 5/23/13, 8:08AM]

    These two businesses do:

    AER

    “Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) scientists are the weather experts that government weather experts around the world rely on – and have been for more than 30 years. Government agencies, including NOAA, NASA, and the U.S. Departments of Defense and Energy depend on AER to solve weather- and climate-related problems … .”

    [http://www.aer.com/weather-risk-management/weather-risk-government]

    IBM

    “IBM has developed new technology for weather prediction that forecasts the behavior of rivers and is coupled with advanced weather simulation models.”

    [http://www.pcworld.com/article/239061/ibm_develops_new_weather_prediction_software.html]

    ***********************************************************

    Izen, I have produced enough evidence to shift the burden of proof to you.

    Prove by clear and convincing evidence… meh, I’ll even give you the lowest standard of proof of all, by a preponderance of the evidence, that private industry does not invest substantially in basic research.

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