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Friday, June 10, 2011

What Are the Odds of Someone Being in Multiple Tornado Strikes? (ContributorNetwork)

At least three residents of Joplin, Mo., have come forward and stated the 2011 EF5 tornado that killed 138 people was their second near-miss with a monster tornado. All three of them had the same, similar question: What are the odds of living through multiple killer tornadoes?

Emily Fuller told the Joplin Globe she was attending college in Tuscaloosa, Ala., when a killer EF4 swept through town. She was merely two blocks away from the destructive zone. When she moved back home to Joplin, Fuller missed the devastation by only two blocks yet again.

Enes Krasovec was living in Franklin, Kan., in 2003 when a strong tornado rated an F4 tore through town and killed 10 people when it finally lifted. The Globe reports Krasovec survived by hiding in a closet and was knocked out by a piece of flying debris. After suffering several broken bones, she eventually settled into a house behind the Rangeline Road Wal-Mart in 2009. That particular retail store is no longer standing, but the storm spared her house this time.

Thomas Cook has the most incredible story of survival. The Springfield News-Leader reports his wife was killed in the powerful EF4 tornado that ravaged Picher, Okla., and Racine, which is about four miles south of Joplin. He and his daughter moved to the center of Joplin and their house was on South Adell Street and was completely destroyed, except for the steel tornado shelter built into their home.

Cook's story is one of a hard lesson learned. He said the tornado room in his house cost an extra $4,000 to install. This time, it may have saved his life.

But these are still truly amazing stories; how come three separate people endured two killer tornadoes?

Bill Davis of the National Weather Service told the Globe the odds of someone being in two killer twisters was almost like being struck by lightning twice. However, it may not seem as unlikely in a contemporary sense. Tornadoes have been happening more frequently. Although the individual storms are small, as compared to a large state, thunderstorms happen all the time in the spring from coast to coast.

Other factors to consider are that humans are more mobile in modern society. With super highways, fast cars and jobs in many cities, there is a greater chance Americans will live in more than one locale in their lifetimes. Although the chances of a tornado striking once in the exact same spot are small because humans move around a lot, the chances of seeing a tornado more than once are high. Living in tornado-prone areas for a long time may also increase the chances of living through a huge storm.

The National Weather Service states only one-tenth of 1 percent of all tornadoes reach an EF3 or greater. Most twisters barely get more than a half-mile wide. Over a huge land area, a half mile isn't very big. It's not like a hurricane which, can be as large as the state of Texas.

Theses stories of survival are incredible no matter what the factors are regarding their location. Three people have done the unthinkable -- survive two powerful twisters and lived to tell the tales.

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