America tornado fact of the day

“People are 10 times more likely to die in a mobile home than if the same tornado hit a regular home,” says book co-author Kevin Simmons, an economist at Austin College in Sherman, Texas.

Simmons says mobile homes constitute only 7% of the USA’s housing stock, but his research found that 43% of all tornado deaths are to people in mobile homes, which can be no match for a tornado’s violent winds, clocked as high as 300 mph.

Here is more, and the data are taken from this new book by Simmons and Daniel Sutter, on the economics of tornadoes, the book’s home page is here.

Comments

It's almost as if tornadoes deliberately target trailer camps.

Some years ago I was travelling with a car load of people from Little Rock AR to Hot Springs AR for a company meeting. On the way, we came upon a scene of devastation; a tornado had just passed through ahead of us. We could not have missed it by more than a few minutes because people were climbing down from under overpasses, coming out of homes, getting out of their cars. The tornado had jumped the highway and come down right in the middle of a small group of trailers and tore a couple of them up.

Nobody was hurt, thankfully, but their homes were destroyed.

Trailers really are tornado magnets.

No more CAPTCHAS?

If you are in a Tornado state, granted, a mobile home is not a great way to go. However, economic necessity is sometimes better than living on the street, even at the slight risk of being destroyed by a twister.

I'm not sure in which direction my expectations were supposed to diverge from this fact. It would have been more fun if there'd been an over/under line to bet on first.

Which is why there is a storm celler outside the back door of my mobile home.

I'm sure it does not explain the entire difference, but why is the entire U.S. housing stock relevant? Are they having an equal proportion of tornadoes in NYC and Tulsa? What is the percentage of housing stock that is mobile homes if everything is weight by number of tornado touchdowns by county?

I think it was Ron White in You Can't Fix Stupid who mocked the people living in mobile homes in Tornado Alley.

"If you are in a Tornado state, granted, a mobile home is not a great way to go. However, economic necessity is sometimes better than living on the street, even at the slight risk of being destroyed by a twister."

Even in Tornado Alley the probability of your mobile home getting torn up by a tornado is pretty small. I grew up in Missouri and have never seen a tornado, and neither have most Missourians.

Tornadoes are a pretty rare event, thus most people don't take it into consideration when purchasing/renting a home in Tornado Alley, much less anywhere else.

43% / 7% - wouldn't that math make it 6x more likely to die or tornado, rather than 10x?

If the odds of dying in a tornado were equal for a mobile home vs a stationary home, then the tornado deaths should be 7 to 93. However, they are actually 43 to 57 (taking the numbers given as fact). To determine the relative odds between people in the two different kinds of structures, you compare these ratios to each other, not the 7 to 43.

Some Bayesian math gone wrong there.

What's the probability of dying from a tornado at all?

What's the probability of dying from a tornado given that you live in a mobile home?

The probability of dying out in the open or in your car is probably far greater than being in a mobile home if a tornado is nearby.

I fail to understand the lesson here. Do we not build mobile homes? Or do we build tornado shelters in mobile home parks?

If you're in a conventional house without a basement, are you relatively safe or unsafe?

Add this to the list of useless statistics.

@JCL,

Agreed those numbers don't make sense. I'd be more interested in the percentage of trailers in the housing stock in Tornado Alley instead of the country as a whole...also confine deaths to areas in Tornado Alley...or a similar analysis anywhere in the country.

There has always been a running joke that tornadoes tend to touch down mostly in trailer parks. But that is because they cause more damage in trailer parks.

My brother got a salvaged mobile home that he used as a shed in his back yard. We were fond of shooting eggs out of potato guns and one day, without even drinking, we thought it would be fun to shoot the trailer. The egg went clear through the siding, through the insulation and internal paneling and splattered against the opposite interior wall.

"You might be a redneck if..."

Food is surely underpriced in the UsA. Shooting Eggs!

"without even drinking" has to be the highlight here

I thought everyone knew that mobile homes were deathtraps (and generally piles of junk). But if you can't afford anything else... any time there isn't a tornado present, a mobile home looks better than being homeless.

And for starters we need more subprime lending to swap the mobile homes into nice houses with lawns.

When a significant hazard exists, do you build robustly (and expensively) to withstand the hazard, or disposably (and cheaply) and build again as needed? The choice could work out many ways.

What (seriously) if you call it a "manufactured home" and it's on a foundation etc?

If the odds of dying in a tornado were equal for a mobile home vs a stationary home, then the tornado deaths should be 7 to 93. However, they are actually 43 to 57 (taking the numbers given as fact). To determine the relative odds between people in the two different kinds of structures, you compare these ratios to each other.

Six Ounces asks the right question,however. I, too, hate articles like this. Your odds of dying in a tornado in if you live in Oklahoma is about 1 in 250,000 in a typical year. For the US as a whole, the odds are about 1 in 5,000,000 during the year.

Clearly, the solution is to make everyone living in a trailer wear helmets.

I thought trailer parks caused tornadoes.

we came upon a scene of devastation; a tornado had just passed through ahead of us. We could not have missed it by more than a few minutes because people were climbing down from under overpasses, coming out of homes, getting out of their cars

Simmons says mobile homes constitute only 7% of the USA’s housing stock, but his research found that 43% of all tornado deaths are to people in mobile homes, which can be no match for a

4iiNks I'm not easily impressed. . . but that's impressing me! :)

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