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Scientists have learned how to determine the force of the tornadoes, and explain why they occur. However, it is impossible to predict at what moment the tornado will touch the ground. Twisters appear all over the world, but the United States suffers the most. In 2013, a powerful tornado hit the city in the suburb of Moore, Oklahoma City (Oklahoma) in the middle of spring, on May 20 (Bailey 5). The tornado was of the highest hazard category EF-5 when the wind speed in the epicenter was about 322 km / h, or 90 m / s (Burgess et al. 1229). The tornado damaged about 13 thousand buildings, including two schools and a hospital. In the list, there were 24 people dead, and more than 200 people injured (Bailey 5). The disaster is significant, as it was one of the most powerful tornadoes in the history of the USA. Moreover, it has practically destroyed one town, and local authorities estimated damage at $ 2 billion (Bailey 5). It is notable that the twister of 2013 was not the first powerful disaster in the region (Bailey 5). In 1999, a very strong tornado smashed the place, and there was a storm with the highest wind speed ever recorded for the elements in the world, which reached 486 kilometers per hour (Bailey 6). The research paper will emphasize the peculiarities of the disaster, focus on the eyewitness testimony and the changes, the tornado provoked in the aftermath.
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Tornado is one of the horrific examples of extreme weather conditions. It causes maximum destruction, and is difficult to predict, although it occurs due to the same reasons that cause severe storms (Simmons and Sutter 5). Twister is an atmospheric vortex, which forms in thunderclouds when air funnels of tornado sweep away everything (Simmons and Sutter 6). The area of twister-prone zones is not limited to North America, but covers all continents of the planet, including Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, and even New Zealand (Simmons and Sutter 7). The exception is perhaps that of Antarctica, where the scientists reveal the possibility of a tornado (Simmons and Sutter 7).
Three-quarters of the world’s tornadoes occur in North America, and the vast majority of them happen in the central part of the United States. This region received the name “Tornado Alley” (Simmons and Sutter 48). The reasons of tornado appearance in the United States are simple to explain in general terms. Warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico meets cold, dry air from the Rocky Mountains, pressed by air currents from the east of the country, which often creates conditions leading to severe thunderstorms (Simmons and Sutter 18). A particular part of the destructive power of tornadoes is caused by the wind force at the epicenter, as well as the speed of the debris of collapsed buildings involved in the movement. Usually, most tornadoes occur in the afternoon starting from 3 pm to 9 pm (Simmons and Sutter 40). The destructive power of tornadoes depends on its size, the duration of its contact with the ground, and the fact whether or not it hits the densely populated areas. The measurement of the strength of a tornado is performed on a scale of Fujita (Simmons and Sutter 41). It explains the level of the twister focusing on the wind speed based on the destruction caused by the hurricane.
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Moore is in the southern suburbs of Oklahoma City, and this state is just known as Tornado Alley. There Moore established a reputation as one of the most dangerous towns. The tornado, more than a kilometer wide, struck the residential quarters of the town, on the outskirts of the state capital. The wind speed at the epicenter of the disaster reached more than 320 kilometers per hour (Burgess et al. 1230). According to meteorologists, this tornado was of the highest power category (Burgess et al. 1229). The scientist stated that the strength of the vortex, which led to numerous consequences, was eight times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima (Burgess et al. 1229). The pictures published by NASA’s, show a well visible so-called supercell, which led to the formation of a tornado (Figure 1). It dared hundreds of homes, shops and office buildings.
Tornado in Moore, according to witnesses, apparently, was not a usual whirlwind: it moved like a solid wall up to two kilometers wide, sweeping away everything in its path. The twister destroyed the entire sections of urban development (Figure 2). Dogs and horses soared in the air, as well as cars that crashed into the walls of buildings. The city lost the lighting and road signs, and the road itself was covered with a variety of stuff. Two schools appeared on the path of the tornado, one of them was the elementary named “Plaza Tower” for children aged 5 to 11 years (Nicas, Campoy, and Koppel). It is the largest elementary school in the area. Teachers from the school heard the alarm 10 minutes before the arrival of a tornado, some people managed to withdraw and hide in the basement of a nearby church. However, it was too little time to evacuate all children. When the disaster hit the school, there were about 75 students (Nicas, Campoy, and Koppel). Teachers hid the children in the toilets (Nicas, Campoy, and Koppel. They acted so because the walls, covered with tiles, are stronger than those with simple coating in other parts of the building (Nicas, Campoy, and Koppel). The rescue operation lasted all night. Another school, affected by the hurricane, was “Briarwood” (Bailey 168). No one suffered there, as the teachers had enough time to evacuate all students.
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Despite modern technology, meteorologists failed to warn the population of the city of an impending storm. The inhabitants of Moore had received notification only 16 minutes before the tornado descended to the earth, (Bailey 70). During the 40 minutes that a tornado was ravaging the town of Moore, it cut the entire neighborhoods. Hundreds of families could not find their homes after the disaster occurred (Bailey 89). Local officials and residents say that such destruction has never happened before.
The Result of the Disaster
In 40 minutes, the tornado has spread out over 30 kilometers (Bailey 5). Apart from the fact that it has destroyed many buildings, it took the life of children and adults (Figure 3). Such a disaster pointed to the weaknesses in governance. The Moore tornado raised a question in Congress about the need to review the safety rules in schools (Simmons and Sutter 177). Currently, the rules of construction of public buildings are set by state governments, and many schools simply do not have specially reinforced security rooms.
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The tornado appeared notable for researchers. Scientists have developed a three-dimensional model of the twister, which allows looking at the storm from inside (Davis). The model became possible thanks to the radar data, collected during a tornado in Moore. Scientists’ invention enables a person to walk inside a 2.1 m high tornado and examine what is happening within it (Davis). Bill Carstensen and his colleagues at the University of Virginia, the developers of the 3D-model of a twister, hope that their invention would help to form a new model of a tornado’s behavior (Davis). In future, the group of scientists plans to synchronize the radar data with real time, so that the specialists of Emergencies would be able to keep track of the storm and its development with a delay of a few minutes only (Davis). There is a possibility that modern technology will help scientists to devise a more accurate tornado warning system that will send a notification 20-30 minutes before a whirlwind falls to the ground.
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Tornado in Moore in 2013 was not the most damaging in US history, but its size, strength, and duration place it among the largest. This storm caused the death of 24 people, destroyed a hospital and two schools. This devastating tornado showed how defenseless is humanity in the face of a natural disaster. Through observations and the data collection, there is a hope that humankind will be able to avoid losses during such cataclysms in future. Now there is a need to build better shelters and provide training to ensure that citizens can behave professionally in a menace of a twister. The research paper has proven the significance of the disaster, shown its influence on humanity, and described the changes the twister in Moore provoked.
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