In the wake of a tornado, it's not uncommon to see images of devastating damage in mobile home communities while surrounding site-built homes appear relatively unscathed. Is it possible that tornadoes are more attracted to mobile homes than site-built homes?
Though many have heard this at some point, it is merely a misconception.
"The perception that mobile homes are struck disproportionately is due to the fact that media is attracted to photos of serious damage and/or serious injuries," Senior Vice President of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Mike Smith said.
"Both are more common with mobile homes in tornadoes, especially if they are not tied down. So, people see reporters doing "standups" in front of mobile homes and it creates a perception that mobile homes are struck more often. "
It is important, however, to consider where most mobile homes are located geographically and how susceptible that landscape is to severe weather.
According to U.S. Census Bureau, many states in the infamous "Tornado Alley," the area in the central and southwest United States struck most by tornadoes, have high percentages of mobile homes.
As of 2004, Wyoming, Kentucky, Arkansas, South Dakota and Louisiana were each within the top 15 states in terms of number of mobile homes. Because these areas are frequented by severe weather, we often hear of the excessive damage caused to mobile homes.
However, while this may make it seem as though tornadoes are attracted to this type of structure, the truth is they are no more likely to be hit than a site-built home in the same location.
The difference is their vulnerability. Mobile homes are less stable structurally and are more likely to be destroyed when hit.
Because the structures are built at a factory and transported to their locations, they are often lighter in weight than site-built homes and, therefore, less secure.
If a mobile home is not tied down, it can tip with winds as low as 55 miles per hour, Smith said.
According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), almost half of all tornado fatalities in the U.S. occur in mobile homes.
Should you find yourself caught in tornado conditions, the best place to take shelter is in the lowest interior room of a house or building.
Residents of mobile homes should have weather radios and be prepared to evacuate and find shelter immediately upon receiving a tornado warning or a warning of winds greater than 60 miles per hour, Smith said.
Deadly Severe Weather Facts & Safety Tips:
Tropical Depression Two has lost its battle to become the next Atlantic tropical storm, but it will still increase shower activity across the Caribbean to end the week.
After temperatures briefly climb to typical midsummer levels, another cooldown will roll into the Midwest and expand to the East for the last part of July.
A potent storm system moving out of the Northwest United States will bring an elevated risk of tornadoes to parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan on Thursday.
Severe thunderstorms that blasted areas of Arkansas with damaging winds and heavy rainfall will continue to race through eastern Texas.
Fresh cooler and less humid air will settle over the Washington, D.C., area for Thursday and Friday.
As California continues to be plagued by intense drought conditions, some surfers are reaping what may be one of very few benefits to such a dry season.
New York (1975)
Severe thunderstorms in western and central NY: lightning struck a city park in Rochester injuring 12 children, all were playing on a metal jungle gym. One patrolman described the scene as if "someone threw a stick of dynamite in the middle of the crowd and it blew."
Southeastern MA (1990)
Torrential rains: Middleboro 7.20" Bridgewater 5.00" Tauton 4.33" Abington 3.05" Cars were stranded in high water in Fall River, MA.
Phoenix, AZ (1992)
Between 4" and 6" of rain fell in locally heavy downpours.