In 1975, 20% of all tornado deaths occurred in mobile homes, but by the year 2000 a full 50% of all fatalities were in mobile homes.
Studies show that residents living in mobile structures are killed at a rate 15 times greater than those living in a permanent structure.
“If they’re not tied down well, a 50 mph wind that catches a mobile home broadside can roll it over” Said Steve Piltz, Meteorologist in Charge with the National Weather Service Office in Tulsa, OK.
To decrease the risk of damage, tie down cables which drape over the unit and are anchored to the ground secure the home to concrete offering more resistance to the storm. With no attachments underneath, the wind will easily generate lift. If the tie downs are weak or are non-existent; mobiles homes can be destroyed at wind speeds as low as 50 or 60 mph.
Mobile homes in Arkansas have tripled since 1980 growing from 5% of all housing units to 15% of housing units. While some mobile homes can withstand an EF0 or EF1 tornado. Wind speeds of EF2 or greater will easily destroy a mobile home.
The majority, 98%, of all tornadoes are weak ranking EF0-EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Only 2% reach EF4 or EF5 intensity, considered violent and causing even permanent structures to be destroyed. With winds nearing 200 mph, the safest place to be is underground or in an above ground safe room.
The best protection whether you live in a mobile home or even in a permanent structure is to plan now for when a tornado threatens areas where you live.
“Figure out where could you go at a moments notice, do you have a neighbor that you could knock on the door at 2am and say hey let me in and they would know why you were there” said, Steve.
According to the Storm Prediction Center, most severe weather and tornadoes in Arkansas occur from March 6th until June 24th.