Last Sunday, the 25th, we were hit by a pretty severe thunderstorm. Large parts of the Twin Cities metro area didn’t feel a thing, but in Forest Lake, we had some really serious winds, crazy sideways rain, and marble-sized hail. I didn’t get video of the worst of it because I was hiding in the storage room with my family, but I did get a minute or two of it while the hail was coming down.
Unfortunately, just 15 minutes south of our house, Hugo was hit by a tornado, one child was killed, dozens of people were injured, and many houses were totally leveled. Because of this, I’ve found myself comparing tornados to earthquakes, having just traded the latter for the former in moving from California to Minnesota. It’s impossible to know whether or not this was a good trade or not, but it’s an interesting question nonetheless. Which is more deadly?
From the six or so years Steph and I lived in California, I can only recall two noticeable earthquakes. The first happened while I was in my car driving, and I couldn’t feel it. I heard about it from everyone else after it happened. The second happened in late October of 2007, and I definitely did feel it, as did Steph, and as did my parents who were visiting at the time and watching Mitch Hedberg with me on a borrowed Apple TV. (“We don’t have to bring ink and paper into th–KA-CHUGGA-CHUGGA-CHUGGA-CHUGGA-SHUNK-SHUNK-SHUNK-SHUNK.”) But neither of those strongest quakes were strong enough to knock any buildings down or kill anyone. Mercifully, deadly quakes are generally spaced apart by a few decades, and then come in relatively tight clusters.
Tornados, on the other hand, come almost every year, especially in the Spring, and have a bit of a habit of knocking buildings down. I don’t have mortality rate data on Minnesotan tornadoes, but from what I recall it’s fairly commonplace for a few people to lose their lives if the tornado touches down in a populated place or is strong enough. So it seems the real comparison here is whether the few people killed each year by Minnesotan tornados could ever catch up to the several thousand killed every 30 to 50 years by big Californian earthquakes. And based on extremely fuzzy math, the answer is “no.” California’s natural disasters are more dangerous.
Assuming the point of life is to stay alive, which clearly it is (For support, see argument, “I mean, come on.”), we made a really good move. It’s good to be back!