Encountering Tornados!

Lubbock Travel Blog

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F3 or so

Living in Tornado Alley most of my life you deal with many Tornados.  Tornado Alley would include northern Texas, most of Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, as well as eastern portions of Colorado and South Dakota.

Tonight alone we had 22 Tornados fortunately just a little damage on these small ones this time but when it is bad….It is BAD! 

11 MAY 1970 here in my home town of Lubbock, Texas was the 4th most costly Tornados in U.S. history to date.  26 People died, at least 500 injured with a destruction cost of $250 Million Dollars (which in today’s dollar amounts would equal $1.25 billion!). We had two tornados on this same day a smaller F1 (Fujita scale) and the Biggest tornado you can have a F5 with wind speeds more than 261 mph and a width of one and a half miles wide.

  On that fretful day this tornado was on the ground for 35 minutes covering 8 ½ miles of destruction. More than 10,000 buildings and 10,000 vehicles in its path were either damaged or destroyed. The 1970 tornado set the precedent of being the only F5 tornado to ever strike a skyscraper.  The NTS tower, known then as the Great Plains Life Building, was twisted, but still remains standing today.  The NTS tower is 20 stories tall and you can still see some of the twist left in the building from the 1970 Tornado.  By the way a prayer ministry called “Pray Lubbock” rents the top floor, and I have been up there praying over Lubbock…it is quite a view.

While traveling in Tornado known areas like Tornado Alley you should really do some research before going…..it could save your life!  Here in West Texas tornado season is normally from March thru May but can vary….this year it started on 17 FEB 2009 with tornados in Oklahoma.  Today (17APR 09) was the start for us.  In the Northern United States tornados usually form in the Summer months of July and August.

  Listen to Local radio stations if bad clouds or storms are in the area especially at night….during a night Tornado in Oklahoma City many drives drove right into it and died!

Tornado Safety:


Look for environmental clues including a dark sky, large hail, frequent lightning or a loud roar or sounds or flying debris.


If you’re driving and see a twister nearby never try to outrun it….even doing over 120 mph won’t save your life in most cases.

Old photo of an F5
  If it is a distance away then try to drive at 90 degree angles away from the movement of the Tornado.  If it is close the best thing to do..if you have the time is to pull over and lay flat with your hands over the back of your neck in a ditch…..get as low as you can.  .  Don’t try to see it!  Normally just before it hits it will get quiet and seem calm and then all hell breaks loose.  Most people describe the noise like a frigate train passing right next to you,  for those who have no clue what that sounds like let me just say you feel like your ear drums are going to burst and are shaken around like a rag doll. You can search the web for a video called “Overpass Tornado”.  This film was a small F0 or F1 Tornado but you can see how bad it is.  NEVER hide under an overpass!  Many have died doing this…the bigger Tornados will suck you out or destroy the overpass and you with it.
We get alot of these little ones.
  Flying debris kills most people in a tornado.  Oh by the way don’t just sit in the car!  One lady’s car was picked up and thrown a long distance in the 1970 storm killing her.


In a Building:

See if it has a basement or cellar (many building have one here) that would be best but if not then go the most center place in the building with no windows or bathroom throwing a mattress over you as you lay in the tub.


Fujita Tornado Intensity Scale

F0: Gale tornado (40-72 mph).

Photo taken in 1994 but shows the Metro Tower that was hit in the 1970 tornado.
Light damage.

F1: Moderate tornado (73-112 mph). Moderate damage.

F2: Significant tornado (113-157 mph). Considerable damage.

F3: Severe tornado (158-206 mph). Severe damage.

F4: Devastating tornado (207-260 mph). Devastating damage.

F5: Incredible tornado (261-318 mph). Incredible damage


Some stories dealing with Tornados:

I remember when I was young (7 years old) living in the country near Pampa, Texas. One day we could see a tornado hitting the town so my folks, sisters and me got in the car and drove to town to see it better. Warning: Don’t do this unless you were raised around tornados and know the signs to look for danger or it can be deadly!  We drove into some of the rain bands and could see it better…this was like a F1 or so…small one.

While in Dallas Texas attending Christ for the Nations Institute a friend from Oregon wanted to see a Twister that was in the area.

Almost 2" of rain street a river again.
  I took him to the roof and looked before going outside all the way to see any signs that it was near…then had him come out.  It was long gone…nothing to see.  If you want to see one then may I suggest taking a “Storm Chaser Tour” this is the safest way to view with people who know what to look for and do near a Tornado.

I do remember my parents telling me stories of them hiding in the cafeteria of a school underneath a table that had a birthday cake on it.  The tornado destroyed most of the cafeteria but none were hurt bad.  The cake was found two miles away undamaged!  Also things like plastic straws impacted into telephone poles!

So in closing it is best to do your research before you travel even on things like weather just might save your life….or give you a trill of your life if you take the tour!

Oh by the way I had knee surgery last week so the only photos I could take were around the house.  Have added some photos of Tornados also. 

shirlan says:
nature is incredible!
Posted on: Apr 17, 2009
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F3 or so
F3 or so
Old photo of an F5
Old photo of an F5
We get alot of these little ones.
We get alot of these little ones.
Photo taken in 1994 but shows the …
Photo taken in 1994 but shows the…
Almost 2 of rain street a river a…
Almost 2" of rain street a river …
Hail from golf ball size to smalle…
Hail from golf ball size to small…
Street water raging.
Street water raging.
Another river street pic.
Another river street pic.
Hail coming off roof covering bush…
Hail coming off roof covering bus…
River in my back yard.
River in my back yard.
Back yard river again.
Back yard river again.
Rain gauge broke by hail.
Rain gauge broke by hail.
Lots of hail in back yard too.
Lots of hail in back yard too.
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photo by: esterrene