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When a Killer Tornado Destroyed a Sprawling Factory and Nobody Died

After seeing the terrible destruction of the tornadoes in the Midwest last weekend, you might think that there is no way anyone could survive a direct hit from a major tornado. Sadly, death is often a part of the losses that these powerful storms cause. Destruction can be especially bad in large buildings like warehouses with long-span roofs that are not well supported in the middle like the Amazon warehouse and candle factory that got hit. Churches and school gymnasiums are also poorly supported because of their high and wide roofs. But proper planning and training can help save the lives of workers or others who are in those buildings if safe areas are constructed ahead of time and workers practice getting into those areas quickly when severe weather threatens.

This story by Andrew Revkin describes the case of a factory in Iowa that was directly hit by an EF4 tornado but whose 150 workers all survived unscathed because of the planning of its owner. If you work with emergency managers or help farmers, businesses, or others plan for severe weather, you need to read this and use it to help them identify safe locations for their workers to go and how to train to respond to severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings effectively. Your National Weather Service office can also help.