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April 25th, 2011

11:36 am - No Deaths in St. Louis Tornado
The St. Louis area's most powerful tornado in 44 years rips into an airport and through a densely populated suburban area, destroying up to 100 homes, shattering hundreds of panes of glass at the main terminal and blowing a shuttle bus on top of a roof. Yet no one is killed, or even seriously hurt, and the airport reopens less than 24 hours later. How?

Early warnings, good timing and common sense all helped prevent a tragedy Friday night. But on Easter Sunday, many of those cleaning up the mess also thanked a higher power.

It's amazing no one died in this tornado, especially since it was a EF4

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April 18th, 2011

09:19 pm - 44 Dead after Killer Twisters Pound South
SANFORD, N.C. – Lowe's store manager Michael Hollowell had heard the tornado warnings, but his first clue that the danger was outside his front door came when he saw his staff running toward the back of the home improvement store.

More than 100 employees and customers screamed in near unison when the steel roof curled off overhead Saturday. The store was becoming part of the wreckage left by a ferocious storm system bristling with killer twisters that ripped through the South.

"You could hear all the steel ripping. People screaming in fear for their lives," Hollowell told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Those in the store did not become part of the death toll that totaled at least 44 across six states, and officials said quick action by Hollowell and his employees helped them all make it out alive in Sanford, about 40 miles south of Raleigh.

Holy shit if this is confirmedCollapse )

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July 11th, 2010

02:06 pm - Disaster Dioramas
Disaster Dioramas!

Hat tip to a jwz post.

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September 2nd, 2009

12:58 am - Second-person disasterporn?
There's a new show on Spike TV, Surviving Disaster - another of the curious plethora of shows hosted by ex-Navy SEALs who talk unusually fast. (Maybe all SEALs talk unusually fast. It might be a side effect of their training or something.) I usually sort of flinch and try to stay away from Spike, but I caught an ad for this in something I recorded on another network and decided to give it a look. (What the hell, The Daily Show is in reruns this week.)

It's basically Worst Case Scenario: The Series: Each week they present a disaster situation in which an everyday citizen might find him- or herself caught, and then the host (who is a character in the dramatization, but who often pauses to address the camera without the other characters noticing) explains how to get out of it intact. (Hence the title of the post.) This week's was "How to Re-Take a Hijacked Airliner" (aka the United 93 problem).

I enjoyed this episode - I'm a little skeptical of the opening claim that nothing you're shown is beyond the capabilities of the "average Joe", but only a little. The actual retaking of the aircraft relies on you having the rather improbable ability to make an impromptu SEAL team out of a group of total strangers without actually being able to speak to them, but if you can get past that there are nuggets of interesting, potentially useful information, such as the frequency you need to put the airplane's radio on so you can convince the F-16s not to shoot you down (121.5 MHz, if you're curious). Still, it was pretty entertaining and not (as I often fear with Spike productions) mind-bendingly machismo-soaked. I'll catch next week's and see if it keeps being fun. (Next week's scenario is apparently derived from the 1974 Irwin Allen disaster movie The Towering Inferno.)

(Please note that this series should not be confused with the recent BBC series of the same name, which also looks interesting and which I think I'd quite like to see.)

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August 3rd, 2009

12:47 pm - Disaster Tweets?
Anyone know of any Disaster-oriented Twitter feeds?

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July 26th, 2009

11:58 pm - disasterporn book club
I've been listening to the Audible version of David McCullough's The Johnstown Flood, as read by the redoubtable Edward Herrmann. This chronicles one of the classic dam failures of the industrial age, the collapse of the earthen-embankment South Fork Dam above Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on Memorial Day, 1889. Flooding in Johnstown was nothing new then and remains common today - it's one of those towns that really hadn't ought to be where it is - but the Great Flood of 1889 was something special even by the standards of a town on a floodplain. It happened in the middle of a truly spectacular rainstorm and basically involved an entire lake falling off a mountain and ending up where Johnstown and its environs were supposed to be. More than 2,000 people died and the face of liability litigation was changed forever by the aftermath - although apparently not the face of hydraulic engineering, as such sequels as the St. Francis Dam, the Teton Dam, and the Baldwin Hills Reservoir disaster of 1963 illustrate.

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July 5th, 2009

01:06 pm - Wait, again?
Didn't we just leave this party?

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June 29th, 2009

11:33 pm - If it's Monday...
... it must be time for another Airbus crash.

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June 27th, 2009

12:29 am - The NTSB asks:
What's going on with these Airbuses anyway?

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June 22nd, 2009

11:25 pm - Metro train wreck in DC
Early reports indicate that one train was stopped when the other hit it. At this point at least six people are known to have been killed in the crash, and the mess is big and tangled enough that I wouldn't be surprised if that isn't the final tally. Upwards of 70 injuries being reported at the moment.

At the risk of seeming ghoulish - but then, we're always at least at risk of seeming ghoulish in this community, aren't we? - it will be interesting to see how the investigation into this deal unfolds, since at first blush it seems like a sort of accident we've seen before - a scenario modern railways are supposed to be prepared for already.

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