WUFT News

UF Research Team Surveys Tornado Damage

By on October 14th, 2013
Debris left behind three months after the Moore tornado.

Wesley Fryer / Flickr

Debris left behind three months after the Moore tornado.

University of Florida researchers are evaluating the damage done after a powerful tornado ravaged Moore, Okla.

UF engineering professor David Prevatt and his team of civil engineering students traveled to the city a few days after the storm that killed almost 30 people and injured nearly 400 others.

The May 20 storm received the highest possible rating on the standard tornado-strength-rating scale.

One team member, Jeandona Doreste, said the scene in Moore, about 11 miles south of Oklahoma City, was unlike any he’d witnessed before.

“On television, you might see an aerial view of the damage, and you might see a street view,” Doreste said. “I was able to actually walk into the homes and see walls torn out and actually understand how the damage occurred.”

The damage followed a similar pattern to past tornadoes in Moore, which has had three tornadoes in the last 13 years, Prevatt said.

He said he’s seen no real improvements to how homes are built in the city.

“The damage was sad but expected,” Prevatt said.

The UF team’s research revealed the $2 billion cost in damage was capable of being limited.

An engineering technique known as a vertical load path is one potential solution that could prevent a repeat of the Moore tornado’s destruction, Prevatt said.

The method works similar to hurricane clips by connecting each component of a building using mechanical fasteners.

Prevatt and his students collaborated with University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University students along with with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to bring attention to the lack of storm shelters in the area.

Prevatt said smart engineering and preparation are the best tools for protecting homes from tornadoes.

“No specific structure is inherently stronger than another,” Prevatt said.

When an F5 tornado struck Moore in 1999, then-President Bill Clinton issued a state of emergency.  The 2013 storm was estimated to cost more than the 1999 storm.

Prevatt said the problem is too much theory and not enough practice.

“Unfortunately, too much of this damage survey work has been done and nothing has come out of it or too little has come out of it,” Prevatt said.

Prevatt added that although his team informed government officials in Moore of the key to better structural integrity, it is up to them to learn from 2013 and 1999.

With their research, Prevatt’s team hopes that cities hit by tornadoes will rebuild stronger and smarter.


This entry was posted in Environment and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Environment

The redbay ambrosia beetle, Xyleborus glabratus, killed by a fungus founded by a team of UF researchers in order to stop the spread of laurel wilt, a disease that kills several tree species.

Solution Found For Disease Threatening Avocado Production

UF Researchers and researchers from the Tropical Research and Education Center, USDA and the Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce have found an alternate way to control the spread of Laurel wilt, a disease that threatens Florida’s avocado industry.


This octagon-based receptacle, which looks as if its been opened, sits in front of Dragonfly Sushi in downtown Gainesville. Morgan Kalish, a downtown worker, smokes a cigarette as he walks by it on Monday morning.

Cigarette Receptacles Making Impact Downtown

The local Cigarette Litter Prevention Program is seeing success after the installation of more than two dozen cigarette receptacles in the downtown area. The program hopes to expand into midtown, despite vandalization by the homeless.


Skeletonization of a Gainesville air potato leaf shows why the air potato beetle is considered one of the most successful biocontrol approaches in recent decades compared to other projects — current or past.

Plant-Eating Beetle: Cheapest Way To Kill Weeds

The FWC has seen recent success in controlling invasive plants that overrun Florida with the use of air potato beetles, and other beetle species.


Cedar Key School’s Future Farmers Of America Chapter Fights Local Hunger

Students from Cedar Key School, a public K-12 school, vow to fight hunger in Levy County by cultivating land at the school to provide fresh, healthy food. The school donated 7,000 pounds of fresh food to the Cedar Key United Methodist Church Food Pantry.


The town’s water tank lies behind a barbed chain link fence in the forest, across from Otter Creek Baptist Church. When the water is stored, the contaminants accumulate because it sits in the pipes and doesn’t circulate.

Water Contamination Problems Persist In Otter Creek

Otter Creek’s search to buy land acquisition with a source of clean water may lead to an end to the town’s ongoing water-contamination issues.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments