KY/IL Tornadoes [12/11]

Just going to start a new thread and drop a couple quick notes here. I have extended thoughts for later.

I do know someone affected there. Childhood friend of mine, we lived next door to each other before his parents divorced and he moved away with his mom and they settled in Mayfield, KY. He’s fine, his wife is fine, their kids are fine. Their house is gone. 2-story brick house, really nice, corner lot, few trees, looked nice. They lived 3 blocks north of the courthouse in Mayfield, so they were right in the middle of the path. We’re going to see what they have for immediate needs and try to help, even if that means making a quick trip down.

My gut feeling, based on photos I’ve seen: it ends up rated EF-5, but not for Mayfield. Or, Mayfield has a couple isolated spots of EF-5. Places on farther NE look much worse. Dawson Springs looks like someone put it in a blender and poured the pieces out; Bremen has concrete slabs - not “there’s a slab, you can see debris trail off for a hundred yards or so” - the debris is just nowhere to be found or it starts hundreds of yards away.

Edwardsville, IL where the Amazon facility got hit: 6 dead there. That tornado is rated EF-3, I think it’s an overrate because of the design of the structure and because there’s nothing else around to suggest that rating. If one of the concrete wall sections failed, it was going to cascade from there and I don’t think it was going to take EF-3 winds (136-165 mph) to cause a failure.

No, I have no idea how much we insure in the affected area. I’ll probably look later. (Yes, every one of you does this with major events. We all do it.) My suspicion is “not a lot” because we only recently started writing in KY, shouldn’t have exposure in the part of MO that was hit, and shouldn’t have much if anything in the part of IL that was hit.


Crazy what weather can do. With a hurricane usually the solution is to just make everything of stone.

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In fucking December!

They (several media) are also reporting that one tornado in particular wandered for 250 miles across four states.

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My suspicion is that it was 2 separate tornadoes. We’ll see if surveys show a continuous path there, but the radar signature showed a clear weakening in northwest TN and then it re-intensified right after entering KY. The parent storm itself ran probably 300+ miles, reminiscent of 2011 when the storm that spawned the Tuscaloosa tornado went nearly 400 miles and spawned several tornadoes along its path.

In some ways, the setup was a lot like what is believed to have happened in 1925 with the Tri-State tornado. Storm way off the line, not where everyone expected the worst storms to be, and it ran through unstable air and had nothing to impede it so it went for hours. It’ll certainly be studied for years to come.

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Let’s hope this isn’t the new normal for that area of the country. The drone flyover of the devastation is heartbreaking. So many lives lost and so many homes just gone.

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I didn’t like KY Gov. Beshear getting in front of reporters on Saturday morning and talking about 70-100 dead in Mayfield, plus whatever else in the rest of the state, without actual information backing it up. So much speculation on how many people were in the one factory vs. how many they’d pulled out alive and assuming well, the rest must be dead in there somewhere and at last check it’s only 8 dead there. [I think 64 for the state, but might be 64 across the nation. Certainly not 64 for that storm alone.]

Also didn’t like him proclaiming it was definitely a 250+ mile track, with nothing to actually prove it. Fantastic example of someone blathering and spreading misinformation just to shock everyone, when he should have left it at something like last night was a tragic night, I expect we’ll have deaths along the path, we will provide resources needed to all affeted to help them recover and rebuild and left the details on deaths and storm length to people whose job it is to compile that stuff.

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I have relatives in that area, cousins and 2nd cousins. Just talked to my mom. No news either way so far from that branch of the family.

Well, you’re talking about what he said on Saturday morning and you’re blessed with the information as of Monday afternoon. Presumably, what he reported were estimates given to him. Granted, I know nothing about this guy so I may be wrong, but more importantly I’m not sure why you’d steer this thread on a tragedy so quickly to political.

It has nothing to do with being political. It has everything to do with someone in a position of authority making claims without any factual basis and going off gut feeling or something like that - which yes, people do every day and people on Twitter do like it’s a religion, but people in authority positions should know better.

Politicans are gonna politican.
Politicans ain’t gonna actuary (although it would be nice if they would).

Maybe more actuaries should politic… well, at least the more extroverted ones.

What type of shoes are you wearing today?

You can’t look for yourself?
Then you cannot run for office.

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and just like that, I was caught being a poser and my political life is over.

damn, I wish it would have been a more salacious scandal involving threesomes and blow.

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The problem is the only actuaries that would make it far in the political game are sociopaths. I’ve known one or two of them in my day. They would probably fit in with the 435 sociopaths in the House of Representatives and the 100 sociopaths in the Senate.

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Having seen politicians in action, one of the last things we ever want them to do is to attempt to actuarialize. Many of them are barely able to basic math and basic spell.

There is actually a “second tornado season” in the mid-south around this time of year…but this event was a bit further north and more extensive than the normal late fall/early winter tornados.

(I spent Christmas Eve a few years ago helping a church in northern Mississippi clean up from a direct hit by a tornado.)

While I try to do work that I committed to by uttering the fatal words, “yeah, I can do that,” let me try to dump a few thoughts and place-holder things for future commentary:

  1. The obsession with some people over this tornado being rated EF-5 is … honestly, disturbing. It’s like they’ll riot if it doesn’t happen. Hell, a large handful of people are pissed it’s “preliminary EF-3+” and not just automatically EF-5 because well radar showed it had wind speeds of 307 mph and well, I see _____, that’s clearly EF-5 and :blah: :blah: :blah:
  2. Lots of attention on whether the factory in Mayfield told workers “if you leave, you’ll be disciplined.” Do I think it happened? In economically distressed areas, employers use their leverage knowing people won’t look elsewhere so … yeah, I wouldn’t be shocked. Do I think it’s criminal? No, I think it’s a shitty business practice.
  3. Amazon also catching hell for allegedly not practicing tornado safety. Same kind of thing as above, except that area isn’t economically distressed, and Amazon has a documented history of shitty practices in its distribution centers. Also sounds like there, some employees were told to stand near the exterior wall that collapsed. Again, probably not criminal; definitely a shitty business practice.
  4. I think Edwardsville (where the Amazon facility was hit) got overrated at EF-3. (Well, it did but it didn’t; see below.) The building was the only apparent severe damage, nothing else on the path was over EF-1. My suspicion is that the design of the building left it susceptible to collapse and that it could have happened at a much lower wind speed. You had freestanding wall sections all tied together with the roof trusses; if something on the roof failed, it left the walls unsupported and free to fall.
  5. This underscores one of the major failings of the EF-scale: it’s an attempt to measure wind speed by inferring it from damage caused, and the work done to form the current system was well-intended but ultimately improper. Damage gets taken largely at face-value for lower-end events, and as you move into higher-end events there’s more focus on alleged construction flaws, lack of really complete devastation, items unmoved in proximity to severe damage, etc. The result is that lower-end events may end up (slightly) overrated, higher-end events are (much) more likely to be underrated.
  6. Look at the pattern of violent tornadoes since the EF-scale was put into place, there’s significantly fewer on average (2011 being a notable exception because … something about a historic tornado outbreak). Is it possible? Sure it’s possible, but looking at the recent record a lot of higher-end tornadoes land at EF-3 and very few make it above that, and a lot of it has to do with how the EF-system is constructed. If you want to use the climate change argument, it’s hard to argue yeah, this specific tornado was exceptionally violent, and look at when it happened in the year, that’s proof of climate change and then (1) look at the past ~10 years with declining numbers of violent tornadoes regardless of time of year, and (2) the fact that there have been notable tornado outbreaks in November and December in the past so it happening here isn’t that unprecedented, and say it’s all consistent.
  7. Throw in that this tornado was moving at ~60 mph and it was (almost certainly) a very large, multi-vortex tornado, and you have the real possibility that this was an exceptionally violent tornado that simply didn’t have time to cause complete devastation and ends up largely underrated as a result. I still think it lands at EF-5 because there’s a few places where destruction is so complete, it’s hard to dismiss it away with various excuses, but much of this will land in EF-4 for reasons noted above.

Maybe this event will finally spur a redesign of the system used to rate tornadoes - which is allegedly happening and has been for 4 years, but no one seems to know anything about it.

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