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:
As a large storm rolls out of the Plains and Midwest, a swath of snow, ice and travel disruptions will extend into the Northeast starting on Sunday evening.
A new storm will form over the weekend across the Plains and will spread snow and ice eastward through the Midwest.
As a snowstorm unraveled from Texas to North Carolina and Virginia, snow and ice left a trail of disruption on Wednesday into Thursday.
Residents in Spokane, Washington, recently caught sight of the unique phenomenon known as "hole punch" clouds that cause a gaping hole in the otherwise cloudy sky.
Storms will continue to affect the West through this weekend and into next week with rounds of precipitation for some needy areas as well as trouble for travelers.
While much of central and eastern North America is still locked in a deep freeze, the warmth cascading across the Pacific Northwest in recent weeks has sparked the early flowering of sakura blossoms in the region.
Great Plains, (1998)
Strong winter storm; winds to 75 mph at St. Francis, KS, 12-14" of snow at Hullet, WY and 18-24" at Deadwood, SD,36" at Burgess Jct., WY. Drifts to several feet. Severe thunderstorms over Texas; winds to 70 mph and golf ball-sized hail. The severe storms progressed into the southeast and brought 100 mph winds to Iowa, LA, injuring 3.
Mauritis Island (2007)
Heavy rain from the 24th to the 26th totalled 21.30 inches at Vacoas.
New England (1645)
After mild winter, "There fell so great a snow in several days, the ways were impassable for 3 weeks so the court held not." From New England Weekly Journal.