The Storm

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!

One thought on “The Storm

  1. For perspective. I’ve lived in the upper midwest for nearly 60 years, the first eighteen and a middle ten being in very rural areas where one can see a looooong way, usually. I have never seen a tornado. I’ve watched all the TV specials on them, and have spent a number of times in various basements during storms over the years, but I’ve never actually SEEN a tornado…the actual funnel cloud. Lots of black or green roiling, churning clouds accompanied by determined winds, but no funnels.

    While living in South Dakota where Josh was born we came back to our home AFTER a tornado had gone over the area to quite a bit of tree damage. How did we know a tornado actually struck? 40′ pine trees with a diameter of 15″ to 18″ were snapped off ten feet above the ground like so many mushrooms…just TWISTED off, thank you. That’s a lot of power. But shoot, in South Dakota the wind is almost always 40 mph plus, and that’s indoors. It gets beyond tedious.

    I know people who live on the west coast and are terrorized by the thought of tornados or even thunder storms. That’s probably the equivalent of my flat-lander’s uneasiness with the thought of great white sharks swimming beneath my toes when I’m in the ocean…something I avoided until I was over 50. Both sets of fear-seized people look at the others and say, “You’re concerned about WHAT? Tornadoes…..sharks. Get over it! Nothing to worry about. Never even seen one.”

    On the other hand I’ve probably spent around 30 to 40 days in California on a cumulative basis in my entire life. Yet I experienced a 5.6 quake last fall. Big deal. But I’d rather not be there for a 7.0 or greater.

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