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Catastrophe Response

Can a Tornado Pick Up a Locomotive?

Black tornado funnel cloud and lightning touching down over an open field during a thunderstorm

Although rare, tornadoes can encounter and damage trains. In fact, in 2008, a Union Pacific train was completely derailed in Northern Illinois during a tornado.

Are all tornadoes that intense? Thankfully not. This article will help you understand how strong a tornado and its associated storms can be and what you can do to mitigate tornado damage to your home and property.

So, Just How Strong Are Tornado Winds?

Tornados are classified by their wind speed and their potential destruction. Enhanced Fujita or EF is the scale used to describe the strength of a tornado. The scale ranges from zero to five. A tornado rated EF0 is considered the weakest of tornados with a wind speed between 55–85 mph.

Tornado classes are as follows:

  • EF1: With wind speeds between 86–113 mph, EF1 tornados cause damage to mobile homes, break windows, and can even rip doors off sturdy buildings.

  • EF2: When the wind speed picks up to 111–135 mph, the tornado can pick up cars, tear roofs off sturdy homes, and uproot large trees.

  • EF3: A tornado becomes EF3 when the wind speed reaches 136–165 mph. With this power, the tornado can blow structures away and overturn trains.

  • EF4: Expect trees to snap, cars to hurl around, and well-constructed homes to be severely damaged when the wind speeds reach 166–200 mph.

  • EF5: Once wind speed exceeds 200 mph, the tornado enters the strongest classification. Against a tornado of this magnitude, high-rise buildings are in danger, whole homes can be swept away, and vehicles fly with ease.

Related Topic: Explaining a Fujita Scale

How to Mitigate Tornado Damage

If you live in a place where tornados are common, your chances of experiencing tornado-related damages are too high not to prepare. Most tornado damage is wind or hail-related.

You can prepare in advance for tornado season by:

  • Managing your landscape. Trees and stones can cause significant damage when the wind picks up. To avoid unnecessary damage, replace gravel ground cover with mulch, keep trees trimmed, and remove any dead or dying branches.
  • Building a storm cellar. If you can, construct a storm cellar to the National Safety Shelter requirements outlined by the NSSA.
  • Using tornado-resistant materials. When renovating, choose materials that can withstand heavy wind. You can also reinforce other parts of your home with tornado-resistant materials.
  • Trusting a cloud-based storage system. If you have important files stored on your computer, consider uploading the data to a cloud base that you can still access even if your technology is damaged.
  • Inventorying your home. Complete or update your home inventory. Be sure to include all your valuable possessions.
  • Reviewing and updating your insurance policy. Review your policy and speak with your agent about any updates (as necessary).

Related Topic: Tornado Shelters: Where to Take Cover When a Tornado Strikes

Does Home Insurance Cover Tornado Damage?

Tornados are one disaster that is commonly included in homeowners’ insurance policies—unlike floods or earthquakes. Insurance companies classify tornados as wind damage, so you still must look over your policy to make sure wind damage is included and that tornados are not specifically excluded. Also, keep in mind that flooding from the rain in a tornado would not be covered unless you purchased a separate flood insurance policy. Here are a few ways your insurance may help you in the event of a tornado.

  • Dweller’s coverage. With this coverage, you can receive help in repairs, replacing windows and roofing, or rebuilding your home entirely.
  • Personal property coverage. After a tornado, your belongings may be ruined and need to be replaced. Personal property coverage helps with that.
  • Loss of use coverage. If your home is damaged to the point of being unsafe to live in while it’s repaired, your insurance policy may include loss of use coverage, which covers the expenses of staying in a hotel and eating out for meals. While this help can be incredibly useful, it often only covers a few days.

Trust Our Teams to Help You Recover from Tornado Damage

Depending on the intensity, a tornado can create extensive damage to structures, and property and endanger the well-being of any living thing caught in its path. Even with preparation and advanced forecasting, there’s no way to fully tornado-proof your home. If your home has suffered tornado damage, you can rely on your local Rainbow Restoration to help you recover. We offer full-service reconstruction, and water and fire damage restoration that can help restore your home as soon as possible.

We hope you never need us, but we’re standing by in case you do. Call us or request information online to learn more.

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