Surviving tornado season

Severe weather and tornados this fall have brought an unusual level of damage that has caught many by surprise. Tornados have been more frequent an intense this year, leaving a trail of both emotional and physical destruction. There are many theories as to why tornados are ramping up including climate change an urbanization. Whatever the cause, it’s important to know how to prepare for a tornado if you are to encounter one.

Civil engineering professor, R. Panneer Selvam, has many publications relating to tornados, their wind patterns and how they interact with structures. Selvam states that “everybody says because of climate change there is going to be severe weather. Whenever you have a severe windstorm, then automatically a tornado can occur” and that applies especially when those storms are in the plains. Fayetteville, on the other hand, is a very hilly area and Selvam says that “we have several technical papers that show that the damage gets reduced or the path of the tornado completely changes” when it reaches the hills. This doesn’t mean that Fayetteville is completely protected, however. According to, there have been “a total of 87 historical tornado events that had recorded magnitude of 2 or above found in or near Fayetteville, AR.”

R. Panneer Selvam – UARK Civil Engineering Professor

One of the biggest concerns of these tornados other than death is the effects on infrastructure. These tornados, such as the recent ones in Little Rock and Jackson, Mississippi are leveling many houses. According to Selvam, this is because of the way these houses are built.

Selvam states that we usually see complete destruction in smaller and poorer neighborhoods. In nicer neighborhoods where houses are bigger and more well built, the same tornado may only take the roof of a house instead of completely destroying it. Buildings that aren’t designed with tornados in mind, but are well-engineered buildings, have been shown to withstand tornados very well. No matter what type of building you’re in, it’s important to be prepared. Selvam recommends finding the safest place in your house now rather than waiting until there’s a tornado warning.

Tornado Damage in Mississippi

As the tornado season continues, it’s important to stay aware of what’s going on by watching the news, turning on weather alerts on your phone, or having a friend or family member who is able to update you on weather. Having an emergency plan in place is the best way to prepare for the possibility of severe weather.