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Dutchess_III's avatar

What would you do if a tornado and an earthquake hit at the same time?

Asked by Dutchess_III (27624 points ) November 7th, 2011

It may seem like a throw away question, but some friends of ours in Oklahoma are under a tornado watch (so are we) AND they’ve been getting hit by earth tremors all day. Ken, in Oklahoma, said he’s getting confused between rumbles of thunder and rumbles of earthquake (which I can tell you sound a lot alike…we felt and heard two of their quakes over the weekend) and he’s about ready to sell the house!
What if two big ones hit at the same time? Do you go in the basement…?? Or not??
Don’t you wish you lived in the Midwest!

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30 Answers

bob_'s avatar

Be all “aw, shit”.

Blackberry's avatar

Act like the weak little animal I am and cower in fear. What else could I do? Hit the emergency natural disaster shut-off switch?

AmWiser's avatar

Oh my! What a dilemma. I wouldn’t know what to do. My only thought would be to pray for guidance. Hang in there.
I love living in the Midwest. Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.:)

Dutchess_III's avatar

@bob_ LOL!! Yeah! That would be about the size of it!

@AmWiser Me too…it’s never boring…but we’ve never been faced with such opposite situations before! We felt the quake here, but we’ve been hit by straight-line winds that shook the house more. What in the world would we do if a real quake, and a real tornado hit at the same time!

GladysMensch's avatar

It’s gonna take a pretty big earthquake to demolish a decently build single story house. However, if even a small tornado hits you, as in actually hits your house, then it doesn’t matter what else is happening. Your house is totaled.
In other words, prepare for the tornado.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Blackberry Well, yeah! Get over here and hit the button! O…we’re under flood warnings too. Guess our drought is over.

@GladysMensch I’ve been in tornadoes before. I know what they can do. The question isn’t about the house. It’s about the people. Here in KS and OK we’re trained to head for the basement. See?

JLeslie's avatar

I think basement, especially if the quakes are <5. The chance of the house totally caving in from the quake is low. In all the recent quakes in the US lately, I don’t think there have been many deaths if any related to the events. The chance of a tornado, if it actually hits the house, ripping the roof off and really being destructive seems much higher to me. Tornadoes that actually rip through populated areas almost always destroy houses and kill people. Tornadoes freak me out.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLeslie Honestly, the chances of a tornado actually nailing a house are really small. The entire town of Greensburg was taken out, yes, but that was because the tornado was a mile wide…but so was the town. And it happened to come straight down Main street. We go through there now and again…they’re slowly rebuilding.

I’ve been in hundreds of warnings, had the wind shake the house. I’ve been scared, but nothing’s happened in the 40 years I’ve lived in Kansas. If the odds weren’t so low, I guess no one would live here.

I would imagine that the odds of an earthquake taking out a house are about as slim.

Just saying, two low odds are coming together at the same time in Oklahoma! Plus the earthquake on Saturday was >5!

CWOTUS's avatar

Unless you live in an older brick building (built before modern building codes were established) and which has not been made “quake resistant” with reinforcement and other upgrades, then you’re better off in the tornado shelter for that building, which will usually be the basement or an interior room without windows.

If you do happen to live in an older brick building, and especially if that’s a multi-story structure, then you should find out from local Emergency Management people where the nearest shelter is, and be there.

The tornado is a much more direct and long-lasting – and predictable – threat. No one can predict earthquakes with any kind of near-term certainty, so you’re best making living arrangements that preclude the danger of being trapped in an incapable dwelling at the time that one might hit.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Right, that’s why I said if the tornado actually hit the house, which is statistically unlikely, but when it does it’s really bad. I’m in wanring all thetime too. I only take shelter when they are spotted very close to where I live. Our whole county goes under warning at once, sirens blaring, but the real danger can be 20 miles from me. It’s ridiculous.

I am not from an earthquake area, so I don’t have a lot of experience with it, although I currently live in a place that when a big one hits it will likely be catastrophic if history repeats itself. My husband grew up with earthquakes, and I don’t think his family did anything in particular for them. Just when they hit they did what was prudent, but nothing in the anticipation one might come.

WestRiverrat's avatar

The property I bought has an old 50’s era bomb shelter on it. It is still in very good repair. That is where I would be. If it can withstand a nuke, it should last through an earthquake.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@WestRiverrat How do you figure?

WestRiverrat's avatar

2 ft of poured concrete with ½” rebar running through it. I was going to take it out, but it would cost too much. The entry is an iron tube surrounded by concrete, I should be safe in that tube from anything but a flood.

Cruiser's avatar

Grab my generator and shotgun!

lillycoyote's avatar

I’ve been chatting with my Oklahoma friend tonight and she says that in addition to the earthquakes and the tornado watch they are under, a flash flood watch has just been issued for her area. She said “it’s gettin’ kind of biblical around here.” :-)

ucme's avatar

Lots of wind bursting out of a massive crack?
I’d have to assume the MIL just ate a curry dinner & i’d evacuate the family from the surrounding area…...quickly!

lillycoyote's avatar

@Cruiser I don’t think firing a shotgun at a tornado or an earthquake is going to do you a whole hell of a lot of good. A gun is a fine defensive weapon, but not appropriate or useful for all circumstances.

JLeslie's avatar

It isn’t unusual for flood watches to happen when tornado watches are also in effect.

Cruiser's avatar

@lillycoyote How is both a tornado and an earthquake be considered all circumstances? Both at the same time in the Chicago area would be beyond devastating and not everyone will be running to help out. ;)

lillycoyote's avatar

@Cruiser I was joking. I hate those damn smiley emoticons and I hate that I use them so much but when I don’t people don’t always get that I’m joking. I was picturing you standing outside your front door, with your shotgun, alternating between shooting at the tornado and shooting at the ground during the earthquake. I stand by my statement that that isn’t going to do you a whole hell of a lot of good. :-)

and

@JLeslie No, it’s not unusual to have flood watches while tornado watches are in effect, it is, however, a little unusual to be having earthquakes, tornado watches, and flood watches all at the same time.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@lillycoyote Indeed! Plus, November is a VERY unusual time for the year for tornado warnings. Oklahoma musta been doing something very bad. They’re going to turn into pillars of salt. I think @Cruiser was gonna get his gun to protect him and his from looters…

lillycoyote's avatar

This one seems to be making the rounds now. It’s kind of funny.

mattbrowne's avatar

Gee, the likelihood of this happening in my lifetime is less than 0.00000000001%. I hit the jackpot big time !!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, the chances of it happening in Oklahoma last week end were higher than that @mattbrowne!

mattbrowne's avatar

@Dutchess_III – No, that’s not how probabilities work. Suppose you’re a dinosaur. Living 65 Myr BCE. A small mammal crawls out of the earth telling you, you gonna be hit by a comet next week. You sure? you ask. Yeah, 100% probability. Two weeks later the mammal stays underground feeling very warm. Told ya.

mattbrowne's avatar

Suppose you live in Oklahoma. You’re very healthy. Gonna live 90 years. Will you experience one tornado at one particular location in Oklahoma while the earth is shaking? Most likely not. But the probability is not zero. A little bit more. When you take the whole state of Oklahoma and look at a period of 90 years the story is different of course. But your question was about what would you do, i.e. one person. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Which is very unlikely. No need to worry.

Dutchess_III's avatar

sigh.
No one was particularly worried, @mattbrowne. However, Oklahoma WAS hit by tremors all weekend. Two and three times a day. I mean, the earthquakes were 100% happening and while that was happening they were under a tornado watch, which meant there was a very good chance the sirens could go off. Doesn’t mean their chances of actually getting hit by a tornado were that high, but the chances that they’d be warned to head to their basements was very high.
But…they deserve it. Damn Okies!

mattbrowne's avatar

@Dutchess_III – Yes, the numbers look different when certain conditions already apply. During a tornado watch period the likelihood of an earthquake and a tornado at the same time is increased. I’m glad that no one was particularly worried ;-) You asked, what if two big ones hit at the same time? My posts were meant to de-catastrophize the whole thing…

Dutchess_III's avatar

:) Who cares about Oklahoma catastrophes, anyway!

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