How 148 Tornados In 1974 Changed Emergency Preparedness Forever

It’s human nature to want to be the best, break records, and rules… people get stronger, faster, smarter, and figure out how to go farther and faster every day. Milestones become faded memories and we continue to move forward breaking rules and regulations. Mother Nature is no different; she has continued to show us that she is a force to be reckoned with and is constantly outdoing herself in the natural-disaster department. However, there is one disaster record that has yet to meet its match; in 1974, Mother Nature had a bee in her bonnet, 148 tornadoes, known as the Super Outbreak, wreaked havoc across 13 states.

The world has seen unimaginable crisis and destruction, but nothing has come close to the damage caused by the tornadoes of 74’. Over 300 people died, over 6,000 more injured, and thousands of homes were destroyed; leaving many homeless and in serious need of food, water, and shelter.

It seems impossible to watch the news lately without hearing about another major disaster tearing through people’s homes and livelihood, but in all the devastation that 2017 has brought upon us, those tornadoes from the time of Studio 54 and all things Vietnam… natural disasters have tried their best but cannot compete with that level of destruction.

Fun (not-so-fun) Facts about Tornadoes

Tornadoes are unpredictable and ruthless (just ask Dorothy), but how do they work?
They form when a column of air gets caught in the space between a cloud and the ground, often mistaken for a harmless thunderstorm, which begins to shift and spin violently. However, even the brightest of scientific minds are unsure as to what truly causes a tornado to form, how to predict their movement, or when their wrath will cease and desist. Our official defense against these twirly beasts is to call for a “tornado watch” when conditions point towards the possibility, not exactly a reassuring plan of attack. Tornadoes come in hot, don’t ask for permission, and certainly don’t beg for forgiveness for the damage they cause.

This brings us to 1974

One tornado is bad enough, 148 of them is just a cruelty of nature. An outbreak is when the same weather system spawns’ multiple tornadoes. Weather patterns collide causing multiple twisters to happen within a general area within a short period of time.

This mass amount of tornadoes caused destruction over the span of 13 states, starting in Tennessee and traveling 2014 miles. They raged on for 15 hours and the longest twister of them all caused chaos for more than 100 miles. “Epic” is an understatement to this Super Outbreak. There has never been anything like it before or since.

Homes were destroyed and many families found themselves without food, water, or proper shelter. Tornadoes have the ability to pick up semi trucks, train cars, and school buses and drop them on whatever they see fit. In 1974, this included a lot of houses, farms, grocery stores, and other sources for food and water.

The good news is:

Humans are adaptable and tend to learn from their mistakes and experiences. A mass tornado attack wasn’t expected back in the 70’s and another similar situation is possible at any time, now or in the future. However, we are learning that being prepared for a disaster can be the difference between life and death. To survive we require fuel in our bodies; food and water storage are a mandatory part survival. Often in the face of a crisis, the option of fresh produce, vegetables, and sources of protein have been destroyed and are no longer available. This is where food storage really shines. Being prepared with a stockpile of water and easily prepared meals can be the reason you and your family survive before, during, and after disaster strikes.

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