Does a tornado destroy everything in its path?

Dateline article| David Murphy|

by David Murphy

The answer is no and I have two examples from personal observations of tornado damage that support this assertion. The first comes from Oklahoma City where a suburban neighborhood was leveled by an incredible, mile-wide twister. I observed block after block of homes that were at least 80 to 90 percent destroyed. In some cases, barely a wall was left standing. Cars were strewn everywhere like toys. The leaves and most of the branches had been stripped from every tree. The ground was a sea of smashed wood, cinder block and people's belongings, interrupted only by the paths the National Guard had tractor-plowed to allow access.

In the middle of all this, I came upon a startling sight. One house had a single interior wall still standing. You could tell it was from the kitchen, because a small kitchen cabinet was left attached. While everything else around it had been completely devastated, the door to this cabinet was merely flung open---and boxes of Cheerios, Fruit Loops and other food items were still neatly arranged, just the way the homeowner had left them!

The second example comes from Lyon, Berks County, where an F-2 tornado sheared the upper floors and roofs off dozens of buildings. West of town, the tornado first arrived at a farm, destroying a barn and then taking aim at the farm house. The occupants realized it was coming and fled to the lower floor and basement. But one man remembered that his pet dog had been left upstairs. As he entered a bedroom to rescue the dog, the tornado hit. The man grabbed the animal and flung himself low against an interior wall. He watched in amazement as the ceiling and both outer walls of the room disappeared above him. In a few seconds, the tornado was gone and so was half the bedroom. But he and the dog were left without a scratch.

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