Tammie Souza Blog: What if the Fairdale Tornado was 45 miles to the east

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The Fairdale Tornado tore a tragic and destructive path through a less populated area of northern Illinois, but what if it struck a highly populated area just 45 miles east.

As part of a National Science Foundation grant students at the University of Florida students relocated the track of the April 9th tornado. The report was prepared from online sources by the civil engineering students in Proof. David O. Prevatt's Research Group. This effort was part of student learning objectives in forensic engineering, wind engineering and post-disaster damage investigation. The EF-4 rated tornado was on the ground for over 40 minutes, traveled 30.2 miles and at it's widest the tornado measured 1/2 mile. It was estimated that 13,000 people were in the tornadoes path and over 150 homes were either destroyed or damaged. The early cost has climbed over $5 million.

If the track was shifted exactly 45 miles east it would cross Chicago's west and northwest suburbs through parts of Kane, DuPage, Cook and Lake Counties including Geneva, St. Charles, Bartlett, Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates, Arlington Heights and Buffalo Grove. Nearly 300 thousand people would be in the path and an estimated 6,500 homes would have been destroyed or damaged with a cost that could exceed $1.5 billion. This area is no stranger to big tornadoes since 5 EF-4 tornadoes have crossed Chicago's NW suburbs since 1950 including the infamous Belvidere and Lake Zurich twisters of 1967.

Because tornadoes can touch down anyplace and at anytime the weather is conducive for them this is a wake up call for every person in the Chicago area. Have a personal plan and family plan for your home, work and school. Know where to go during the disaster and have a meeting place afterward. You will need a contact person out of the area since phones and communication in your area may not be working or may be overloaded. Prepare a disaster kit too. This should have among other things 1 gallon of water per person for several days, flash lights, batteries, candles, matches, a NOAA weather radio and transistor radio, cell phone charger, medical supplies, blankets, non perishable foods with a can opener. Some cash, copies of important medical and personal records, activities for your children and supplies for your pets.