Early warning, communication, training, and “safe rooms” combined to save thousands of lives from the Okla. monster tornado. It is a very clear example of how cities have designed adaptation systems to respond to local weather conditions.
How could so many have survived the Okla. tornado?
Viewers glued to TV following Monday’s tornado that hit here with the destructive force of an atomic bomb very likely expected to wake up Tuesday to a death and injury toll in the thousands.
How could anyone have survived the apocalyptic destruction of a worst-of-the-worst EF5 category storm? Miraculously, most did, despite an official warning coming just 16 minutes before the twister cut a 17-mile war-zone-like path through this city of 56,000.
Local, state and federal officials credit luck, happenstance, timing, faith, heroics, preparation and the seasoned experience that comes with living in the heart of Tornado Alley for the relatively low victim count.
“If they say there’s a chance of severe tornadoes, people take it really seriously,” said Tyler Porter, who lives in Oklahoma City, 10 miles north of Moore. “They pretty much know when it’s time to take cover.”
A humbling map of real-time wind patterns in Tornado Alley
“Wind Map” is a stunning interactive datavisualization that presents wind patterns across the continental U.S. in real time. Picture above is what it looked like last night at 10:59 CDT, in the aftermath of yesterday’s devastating Oklahoma tornado.”
Great read and video of the researchers in Mongolia.
Eight hundred years ago, relatively small armies of mounted warriors suddenly exploded outward from the cold, arid high-elevation grasslands of Mongolia and reshaped world geography, culture and history in ways that still resound today. How did they do it?
Tree-ring scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have worked in Mongolia since 1995. In 2010, Lamont researcher Neil Pederson and Amy Hessl of West Virginia University were seeking old trees for a study of wildfire history. High in the Khangai Mountains, north of the steppe where the long-disappeared Mongol capital of Karakorum once lay, they explored a nearly solid-rock plain of hardened lava left by a volcanic eruption some 8,000 years ago. Growing out of fissures and thin soils were thousands of gnarled, stunted larches and Siberian pines–a tree-ring scientist’s treasure. Annual rings of many species reflect rainfall or temperature in predictable ways. These can be read like books; and trees in the driest, harshest sites like this are exquisitely sensitive to rain, live to extraordinary ages, and leave trunks that may stand for centuries after they die. They are truly ancient manuscripts, writ with a fine hand.
Pederson and Hessl analyzed 17 trees to chart a yearly record of rainfall back to 658 AD. They saw that from 1211-1230—the exact time of the Mongols’ rise—central Mongolia saw one of its wettest periods ever. That time also was unusually warm, as shown by a 2001 paper from other Lamont researchers.
A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.
I'm a climate change consultant specializing in climate adaptation, environmental law, and urban planning based in the U.S. In addition to traveling and hiking, I research, publish, and lecture on how cities can adapt to climate change.
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