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Tornado Town, USA

Stashed in: Weather!, Nate Silver, Calamities

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If hurricanes are nature’s nuclear warhead, tornadoes are its smart bomb.

Smart bomb because targeted?


Poor Moore:  Nobody knows how likely it is that a given town would be hit by four violent tornadoes in 16 years; if we knew that, then we’d also know whether Moore really is especially tornado prone, or just suffering a streak of bad luck. But we do know big tornadoes, themselves, are rare. Devastating EF4s made up 1.37 percent of all the tornadoes that hit the U.S. from 1994 to 2012.2 Just 0.14 percent were incredible EF5s.


He called me in 2003, when a slightly less powerful tornado — and, by “less powerful,” I mean one classified as “devastating” (an EF4) rather than “incredible” (an EF5) — hit Moore. He called me in 2010, when another EF4 struck the town. He called me in 2013, when Moore was hit — improbably — by a second EF5. He always asks the same question: “What is going on here?” One town. Sixteen years. Four big, powerful tornadoes. It’s a hell of a coincidence. Can it really be just the work of random chance?1

Geez tornadoes are vehicles of devastation. :(

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