Avoiding Earthquakes & Tornados?

Earthquakes and tornados are some of nature’s deadliest weapons. For many years, researchers have gathered data on their frequencies and magnitudes. What can we learn from that information?

Aftermath of 1906 San Francisco Earthquake – Block of burning buildings with fire truck spraying water on them (June 8, 1906)
Source: Library of Congress

Earthquakes

Here’s a map created by John Nelson, a mapping manager with data-visualization software maker IDV solutions. It shows every major earthquake (203,186 in total) that has been recorded since 1898. You probably already knew this, but if you want to avoid earthquakes, stay away from the Pacific Rim.

“We only started recording hard core in the late 1960′s. Also, you’d be right to assume that areas with more sensors record more earthquakes (but that’s why they are there, so round and round we go), though they can pretty well pinpoint epicenters from all over.” ~ John Nelson, Mapping Manager

Tornados

John has also created an interesting map showing the path of tornados over the United States. It includes all tornados that “touched down” between 1950 and 2011. Nelson has several other related tornado maps on his website, showing the data by season as well as by F-Scale. Most of the activity takes place in Tornado Alley, usually known as the area between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains. But there’s more activity on the East Coast than we anticipated. The brightness of the lines indicates the F-Scale, or Fujita Scale, of the Tornado. The F-Scale measures the intensity of tornados based on the amount of damage they inflict on buildings as well as vegetation.

Interestingly enough, West Virginia is surrounded by tornados yet appears to get very little activity within its borders. We suppose that could be a data flaw. But if not, your best bet to avoid tornados seems to be sticking to the West Coast or holing up in West Virginia.

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