WEATHER: How safe is your safe place?


With the lasting images of the devastation on April 27th, 2011 and March 3rd, 2019 in Lee County, it is understable to question your safety. Both tornadoes were EF-4 and wiped homes off foundations. 

Normally, meteorologists will instruct you to get into your “safe place”. This is typically the interior most room on the lowest level of a site-built home. But, on days with the potential for strong and violent tornadoes, this safe place may not be good enough. 

John Mason and Jason Senkbeil have done extensive research on this topic with the hopes of protecting people in the future. They found that 42 people died in permanent homes on April 27th in Tuscaloosa and only eight deaths were in mobile homes. “They are doing exactly what we are telling them to do and they will still die. So that’s really tough for us. So, we looked at that and said what can we do as scientists to figure out giving these people a better chance of making decisions that will benefit them on these really rare severe weather days,” John Mason said. 

The two came up with the Tornado Watch Scale. It’s a proposed scale to send out different messages to the public during tornado watches to convey the potential severity of the storms AND what would suffice as adequate shelter. 

To read more about the Tornado Watch Scale, click here: 

“A storm shelter is the best option. They are just not affordable and we don’t have enough shelter space for the population. And unfortunately, we have very few shelters in driving distance of mobile homes. And that’s a problem,” Senkbeil said. 

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