Rural Missouri - May 2011 - (Page 12)

his time of year, tornadoes are a great possibility across Missouri. If one strikes, most people will know what to do. Others, however, will be caught off guard with no time to seek shelter. That’s what happened to Regina Suter’s son on March 12, 2006, in Fordland. Regina was watching the 10 o’clock news when the power went out from what seemed like only an impending thunderstorm. “I could tell the air pressure was different,” Regina recalls, “but since it wasn’t even raining, I didn’t think anything of it at the time.” Less than a mile away, 19-year-old Matt Suter was watching TV at his grandmother’s mobile home where he often stayed to help with his disabled uncle. Suddenly, the wind grew loud, as if jets were flying overhead. As Matt stood on the couch, attempting to close the family room window, the locked doors on the front and back of the home were ripped off their hinges. A heavy lamp then struck the teen on the head and knocked him unconscious. A moment later a tornado, with winds in excess of 125 miles per hour, hit the home, literally sucking the boxer-clad teen into its jaws. The twister catapulted the still-unconscious Matt more than 1,000 feet, dropping him into a soft grassy field, where he lay until it began to rain. And then, he woke up. Lightning lit the sky long enough for a disoriented Matt to look toward where his grandmother’s house used to be. Worried for his family, the barefoot teen ran to a neighbor’s house for help. “Matt doesn’t like to talk about it much,” says Regina, recalling her now-24-year-old son’s twister According to the National Weather Service, 65 tornadoes touched down in Missouri last year. In an average year, tale. “It’s a miracle he’s alive. He had no broken the state records 32 tornadoes, while the record to date is 102 tornadoes in 2006. bones and only five staples for the gash on his head, but his feet were bruised so badly from running in me, if a tornado hits your home, opening a window debris that he limped for days.” is the least of your concerns. Just leave them alone Though Matt’s grandmother and uncle had more and seek shelter.” serious injuries, both survived. Another misconception is that it’s safe to take “According to the National Weather Service peoshelter beneath an overpass during a tornado. While ple, they figured he’d been carried 1,307 feet by the it may protect you from rain and hail, the wind tornado,” says Regina, a member of Webster Electric • Tornadoes can arrive without a thunfrom the tornado will actually accelerate under the Cooperative. derstorm, and funnel clouds can hide bridge, possibly whisking everything away or even That distance is taller than the Empire State behind rain or clouds. If the sky turns damaging the structure and crushing the vehicle. Building, which stands at 1,250 feet, and longer People think they’ll see a tornado before it hits, than three football fields, which are each 360 feet in grayish-green, there’s large hail or you giving them time to seek shelter. But as Jessica length, including the end zones. hear a roar that sounds like a freight Barnes shares, that’s not always the case. Usually, people who are tossed into the air by train, take cover. “I had only seconds to make a decision when the tornadoes are killed in the air, in the fall or already tornado hit our home,” she says. The tornado struck dead when they were picked up. The distance Matt her mobile home in Sparta just after midnight on was carried set a new record for tor• Have a tornado plan and practice it Dec. 31, 2010. nado survivors. The previous record with your family so everyone knows “The strange sound of the wind woke dated back to 1955 when a young girl where to go immediately when a torme up — and I could tell something was and her pony in South Dakota were carnado is imminent. Also, have a meetwrong,” she recalls. “My instinct was to ried 1,000 feet. grab my son, throw him in the bathtub, According to Gene Hatch, meteoroloing spot everyone is are aware of in Fordland lay on top of him and hang on. Secgist for the Springfield, Mo., office of the case you get separated by the storm. • onds later, it was pitch black and I felt National Weather Service, 85 confirmed •Sparta like we were on a really hard, loud tornadoes ripped across the Show-Me State • At home, the safest place is the interollercoaster ride.” on March 11-13, 2006 — with 17 of those Moments later, everything stopped. in the state’s southwestern counties. rior part of a basement. If there is no When Jessica opened her eyes, her 3-year-old son, “Peak tornado season for Missouri usually runs basement, go to an inside room, withCaleb, was on top of her. The bathtub they had takfrom March to late June,” says Hatch, “But we’ve out windows, on the lowest floor. This en shelter in had been tossed, with them still inside, had tornadoes hit every month of the year.” could be a center hallway, bathroom nearly 60 feet by the tornado. Other than a few cuts Hatch says Missouri is considered part of “Torand bruises, they lived to tell their story. nado Alley.” The term refers to a corridor of states or closet. “If you’d have asked me that day where I would where the greatest number of tornadoes occur and go if a tornado hit, I’d have told you ‘out to the celalso includes Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska • If you are in your car, don’t try to out lar,’” says Jessica, “but it just hit so fast. We didn’t and eastern South Dakota and Colorado. Living in run a tornado — get to a safe structure have time.” the alley requires that residents take precautions. Although several months have passed, Jessica’s “The best thing people can do is to have a plan as soon as possible. If that’s not posstill shaken by her tornado ride. of action,” says Hatch. “If a tornado hits, know sible, find a ditch or hollow and jump “A month or so ago, a strong storm came where you would go and make sure the entire family in, covering your head the best you through. I was in the basement at my mom’s house knows and practices that plan,” says Hatch. “Being can. and I was still scared,” she recalls. “I don’t think it’s prepared can save lives.” going to matter what home I’m in or how much Many people have grown up with misleading time has passed since the tornado — storms are information about tornadoes. One example is the • Keep a weather radio, with fresh batgoing to scare me from now on.” belief that opening windows before a tornado hits teries, on at all times. Also keep a flashwill help equalize pressure and minimize damage. light with fresh batteries on hand. For more information about tornadoes, log on to “Opening windows doesn’t do much to keep your www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado. home from being damaged,” says Hatch. “Believe T by Heather Berry hberry@ruralmissouri.coop In Missouri, peak tornado season usually runs from March to late June. Are you prepared? PLANNING AHEAD TO SURVIVE 12 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - May 2011

Rural Missouri - May 2011
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
Jim Peters’ Passion
Help & Hope
Twist of Fate
Mail Bag
Shoot Like a Pro
Out of the Way Eats
Aircraft From Another Era
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
The Pared-Down House
Marketplace
Around Missouri
Neighbors
Just4Kids

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