Social Question

MrGrimm888's avatar

Are trailers/mobile homes 'tornado bait?'?

Asked by MrGrimm888 (10320points) August 26th, 2016

On another thread, @Dutchess III refered to them as tornado bait.

I’ve heard this before many,many times.

Is it just that more damage is done to the inferior home (physically,) so it gets more headlines when a trailer is involved?

Or is there anything scientific about trailer parks being more of a ‘tornado magnet? ’

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41 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Urban legend aside, a violent windstorm can do a lot more damage to a mobile home than to a home that is anchored to a foundation. The tornado doesn’t have to go right through it; a trailer can get tossed just being in proximity.

Seek's avatar

They’re not “magnets”, per se. They’re not more likely to be hit, but they do basically fall apart at lower wind speed than a block house.

I live in a mobile home in a neighborhood full of mobile homes. The one I live in has been standing since 1972 or something like that. Many others around here have, too.

I can feel the house shake during a heavy rainstorm. If we didn’t have so many lakes (tornadoes hate lakes) in this area, this place would probably have gone down a long time ago.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ya!! That was always the joke when I was a teenager. There is nothing inherent in them that actually attracts tornadoes, but even a strong wind can tear the shit out of one, with nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

I wouldn’t want to live in a trailer house in Kansas, at least, not with out something like this nearby. That’s becoming the next big thing here. People don’t want to mess with basements any more, even tho they are awesome in many ways, but we HAVE to have underground shelter.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

They’re light, not anchored to the ground well and to a tornado are not much different than an inflatable bounce house.

JLeslie's avatar

They can’t stand up to high winds well. If the tornado hits a mobile home park the place is too often flattened, and also, sadly, there sometimes are multiple deaths. One tornado can blast through in a matter of minutes and kill 50 people. From what I understand, if a tornado is coming you are supposed to leave a mobile home and ride out the the tornado in a ditch. I wonder how many people actually do that?

Tornados give little warning, and carve crazy paths through towns. Maybe mobile homes are more likely to be in rural areas on open land that is prime for tornadoes? I don’t know if that’s statistically true, but it seems to fit.

In Florida I always find it ironic that you can’t build a house without spending a lot of money meeting wind codes, but you can buy a new mobile home that doesn’t meet wind codes, and is extremely vulnerable in bad wind storms. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying mobile homes shouldn’t be allowed, they provide shelter for many people, and some of them are pretty fantastic inside.

Jaxk's avatar

As said above the damage from a tornado to a mobile home park will be much greater. The homes are not anchored to a foundation and what would be damaging to a home built on a foundation will be devastating to a mobile home. To make it worse mobile home parks place the home much closer together so the number of homes affected will be greater. A tornado that may damage 10 or 20 homes in a neighborhood would completely destroy 40–50 mobile homes. Deaths, damage, and the number of people affected will all be amplified in a mobile home park.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Thank you all for your contributions.

So. Basically, tornadoes get more headlines when they affect a trailer park because of the far worse damage inflicted on trailers than regular homes?

That’s what I assumed.

kritiper's avatar

I’d say she meant it figuratively, not literally.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Well, of course. I was just curious what Fluther had to say about it.

Sometimes something can be over represented in probability, but not necessarily explained by science. Didn’t know if trailer parks got more tornadoes than normal neighborhoods, or if it was the conclusion we reached.

Seek's avatar

I’ve been present for two tornadoes in my life. One hit my school’s gymnasium, the other my office building. Both were F0s, so only minor damage. I’ve lived in mobile or modular homes since I was nine. ::shrug::

MrGrimm888's avatar

I’ve seen ware spouts a few times. Their pretty ominous and scary. They were giant, grey, and if I didn’t know better, they looked ‘angry.’

rojo's avatar

“And mobile homes are smotherin’ my keys;
Well I hate those bastards so much.
I wish a summer squall would blow them
all the way up to fantasy land.
They’re ugly and square, they don’t belong here.
They look a lot better as beer cans.”

Jimmy Buffett

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I watched an f1 tornado flip a double wide construction trailer over like it was a paper airplane a few years back in Chattanooga. I’m never living in one after I saw that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Actually, trailer homes don’t get any special news coverage. It’s like, “Another one bites the dust.” it’s just general common knowledge that it you live in a trailer you’re going to get it sooner or later. Nothing to write home about.

But an entire town sure makes the news.
I remember watching the weather on TV, and saw the radar for Greensberg. (I actually took a picture of the TV screen, but it’s on a disk somewhere.) It just froze my blood, and that was before they even announced that a tornado actually wiped the town out. This is a pic I took when we went through there about 4 months later.

But this kind of stuff is pretty common around here. I cleaned up the yard just last week from a storm that moved through, tore up the trees a little.

Seek's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me – Construction trailers aren’t tied down, though. Mobile homes that people live in – at least, where I live – have to be anchored every, like, three feet to giant stake things that are buried in the ground.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yes, but they’re still really flimsy. A 100 mph straight wind can flatten them.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I don’t understand why you HAVE to wear a seat belt ,because it’s safer,but your family can reside,and sleep in such a vulnerable structure….

It seems like it should be illegal to have trailer parks in states where tornadoes are prevalent.

Seek's avatar

Well, without low-cost housing, lots more people would be homeless on all of the days that don’t have tornadoes.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Obama gave us health care. Why couldn’t the government subsidise brick,or cinder block houses in tornado proNE areas? Or make some giant underground section 8 housing unit.

Seek's avatar

You’re not fucking serious.

Seek's avatar

There are more than enough empty houses to go around. The problem is someone (usually a bank) owns them all, and they’re not interested in renting them out to people on Social Security or making minimum wage. Poor people are bad for homeowners’ association membership.

Section 8 has a three year waiting list in my city.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^That a girl @Seek. Bullseye…

I have plenty to say about that, but I’ll save it for another thread.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Around here there is a general shortage of available houses. Banks own most of them but there are people who hold mortgages on them and are paying.

Seek's avatar

It also bears mentioning that most trailer parks are owned by gagillionaires. Even if it made sense to close them all, some very wealthy people will have rich people fits to their senators about it.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Gotta love the system.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think at the very least, there should be a large storm shelter reasonably nearby, for the people to get to.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Yeah. Each trailer park should be mandated to have a shelter.

Seek's avatar

Can’t do that in Florida. If you dig down ten feet here you hit water.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Shelters don’t need to be underground. I.stayed in a VA hospital during a hurricane once. You could barely tell anything was going on outside. Unless you looked out the window.

Seek's avatar

There’s always somewhere to evacuate to during a hurricane. Most people visit friends, but the schools open up if it’s serious.

Tornadoes are a different story. They’re too sudden to plan for. If there’s a tornado warning I usually take Ian and go shopping for an hour or so.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I just meant that a structure could be close,like a church, that would be much stronger.

Seek's avatar

Hmm, closest thing to me is the library. 2½ miles. A bit far for shouting “AUNTIE EM! UNCLE HENRY!” while I take cover. Lots of people in my neighborhood don’t have cars, so they’d be SOL.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hurricanes are very different from tornadoes, @MrGrimm888. An F5 can reach wind speeds of over 300 mph and they hit quick and hard with almost no warning.

Top wind speed on a catagory 5 hurricane is ~157 mph, That’s only a high F2 to low F3 on the Fujita tornado scale.
Plus you get days of warning with a hurricane.
The hurricane you weathered in the VA hospital was NOT a catagory 5. There have only been 3 catagory 5 hurricanes to make landfall in the US.
Plus, underground is the worst place to be in a hurricane because flooding.

Yes, a tornado shelter has to be within running distance, and hope you make it.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^I never said I had been through a 5…Did I? ...

I was just thinking it should be required that trailer parks have a shelter somewhere near.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You said the shelters don’t need to be underground because you once rode out a bit of a hurricane in a building.

My point was, even if you had been in a severe hurricane (which you weren’t,) it would only be comparable to a low to mid-level tornado. Whatever level hurricane you were in was probably comparable to a really windy day in Kansas.

They can’t be compared. Tornado shelters absolutely need to be underground.

Seek's avatar

@Dutchess_III – there are distinct differences between a hurricane and a “windy day in Kansas”. You might get a few 75 mph gusts, but you’re not getting 75+ mph sustained winds for a day and a half. (And that’s a low-grade Cat 1)

Dutchess_III's avatar

I know that. Hurricanes last and last and last and do damage over time, but you can still ride the lower level ones out in a building, as @Mgrimm did. Tornadoes hit hard and fast, and do this within seconds, and you need to be underground, or able to get there within seconds.

Seek's avatar

Tropical storm tonight and tomorrow. Hurricane will hit too far north to give us the worst of it. We’ll be on the southeast corner of the storm though, so we’ll get more rain than the eye. It’s been raining since like midnight two days ago. I’m painting my living room out of boredom.

It would suck if the house fell down this weekend. It’d ruin my fresh paint.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL! Yeah, it would!

MrGrimm888's avatar

I was in a house during Hugo. Big mistake to stay. I know tornadoes suck, and have worse winds over a short time. But there are also tornadoes during hurricanes. Or so I’ve been told.

When the sun came up after Hugo, it was a new world. For years. More like forever.

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