Monday, March 31, 2014

Where to Live V - Tornadoes

As I am sitting under a tornado watch at present,* it seemed a good time to examine another threat that the prepper should consider when selecting a location to live: tornadoes.

In some ways, tornadoes are the opposite of the nuclear power plants we discussed in Part IV.  Whereas nuclear plants are stationary, tornadoes are mobile. Nuke plants are rare while tornadoes are common. But the third difference is, at least to me, the most important: when a nuclear power plant has a serious accident, it does far more damage over a larger area and for a longer time than even the largest tornado.

That's not to say tornadoes aren't serious; they can be.  Drive through Joplin, Missouri, today and you can still see the path of the F5 that killed 158 people and injured more than 1000 in 2011. But three years later, more people are living in and around Joplin than ever. The same is not true of Chernobyl, which is today surrounded by an Exclusion Zone measuring 1000 square miles. No one lives there and maybe never will again.

This comparison gives us a two-sided grid under which the prepper can categorize threats: frequency (common/rare) versus impact (limited/massive). Nearly every conceivable threat can be measured that way. Those threats that are rare and of limited damage can often be safely ignored, for you'll have built in enough preparation already to handle them.  Those that are both common and massive (e.g. hurricanes on the Gulf Coast) will demand serious preparation and perhaps even avoidance. Those massive threats which are deemed inevitable, like a dollar collapse, can perhaps only be planned for and muddled through.

Since no prepper can be safe from all threats or even prepare for all threats,** the prepper simply must prioritize. If the danger posed by a tornadoes is judged to be greater than that of earthquakes, California looks welcoming.  If not, then the prepper will make another choice. We'll have a few more factors to throw into your threat grid over the next couple of weeks. Be safe.

* One of eight I'll see this year according to this handy-dandy map from NOAA.
** What's the plan for a planetary collision?


  1. While it is good to consider some things, and weigh and balance this and that, the truth is, like you suggested, there is no truly safe place.

    Before moving Westward, I lived in Iowa. I lived high and wide of the flood plain. In a span of three years, even well outside of the flood zones, far from the purported risk, I had to reconsider things as one time I was cut off because of road washout issues, and one time I had to at least be considering evac plans. Oh, they mumbled something about the 100 year flood, then the 500 year flood, while, honestly, not knowing anything more than I did. The water was deep, still falling, and everywhere. The rest was smartless talk. That was before the new religion of grobal warbling kicked in, thankfully.

    I actually lucked out where I moved. The only thing we get are earthquakes every twenty five years or so, and mild ones at that. And the home I live in has easily survived four or more, without a problem. I don't think some of the modern homes will survive a big one. Oh, well, and occasional flooding. While if flood waters do reach me, the whole county will be under water, so... Then again...

    It's good to weigh and balance, just understand that there are no guarantees. I just recommended looking for areas that have the fewest sets of problems, historically. I fell into it, while having other priorities, if with some of those things on my mind.

    Oh, and find out what sort of political environment you are wanting. Liberal areas, while fine if that is your thing, will discourage self defense. Just understand that. And that sort of thing will be in place, at least as long as it holds, through out any 'event'. I chose conservative, for many reasons, as far as that actually goes, mind you. Folks around here aren't afraid to see a gun, or use one. And for that reason there is little need to use one.

  2. I remember driving through Iowa during the flooding. On a few areas north of Des Moines, all that seemed above water was the highway - in both directions water seemed to reach for miles and miles. 500 year flood, indeed. I kept looking for a boat full of animals.

    You are correct: one cannot escape all threats, we can only choose, balance, and attempt to mitigate.

  3. It's cool when someone actually knows what I'm talking about! I am thinking, actually, in about 12 years there in Iowa, we had... several 500 year floods, and many 100 year floods, though only that one was pretty much the whole of Iowa. An amazing time to see.

  4. You are under tornado watch, I'm under blizzard warning. I eagerly await the map showing the likelihood of Never Ending Winter.

  5. Poor Giraffe, always winter and never Christmas.

  6. You are under tornado watch, I'm under blizzard warning

    Earthquake alert here.
    I've lived in various places, suffered through hurricanes, tornadoes (my grandfather and his neighbor used to sit on the back porch and watch them touch down and tear up the countryside east of their properties while drinking and cackling. It was a show) "Nor'Easters" and lightening storms.
    Even though all of those generally provide some warning (even if it is only in minutes) and quakes don't (you really don't know until you hear thunder coming from the wrong direction, and the ground fall out from beneath your feet like the whole world just became your own personal bounce-house) I'll take quakes every day of the week.
    They're over in seconds, and as long as you're not stupid enough to live in a concrete or 100% mason structure, your house will usually remain standing. For whatever reason, wood-constructed homes are very good at achieving frequency resonance with the shockwaves produced by quakes and simply rolling with it.
    Power lines will go down.
    Freeway overpasses and connectors usually collapse.
    Gas leaks cause fires.
    Circumscribe those three things and you've handled the greater part of it.
    It's probably one of the easiest disasters to prepare for and survive, yet so many people are continually, almost psycopathically frightened by them more than any other type of event.
    If I could figure out a practical way to farm the Mojave desert, that would be the #1 place to build a redoubt.

  7. Huck lives amongst the zombies.

    I do envy the longer growing seasons. You guys can grow some things I can't. It is easier to live off a garden when winter is not 10.5 months long.

    Mrs. G just called. A little way from here there is a blizzard warning and a tornado warning at the same time.

  8. Heh, the earthquake map is up in a couple days. Huck, you really ought to overlay it with the nuclear plant map if you want a good giggle.

  9. I do envy the longer growing seasons. You guys can grow some things I can't

    For a couple hundred years, this was all prime farmland and premiere orchards, suitable for growing just about any produce in existence. Until some genius had the bright idea to pave it all over and spray graffiti everywhere.
    I have a feeling it'll be prime farmland again someday.

    you really ought to overlay it with the nuclear plant map if you want a good giggle

    No doubt.
    Also worthy of note is California's long-standing moratorium on building new nuclear plants, which "unexpectedly" led to preventing any modernization at all for the state's existing plants.
    So all of our nuke plants have been essentially frozen in the era of Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island, which is a spectacular place to be when the thunder literally comes from down under.

  10. It was nearly 60 degrees today. I went for a walk, just enjoying the warmth.