In the early morning of June 24, 2017, New Jersey witnessed a rare meteorological phenomenon when two tornadoes touched down in Howell in Monmouth County. This occurrence is not only remarkable because of the twin tornadoes, but also because they touched down in the early morning. Of all the tornadoes that touched down in New Jersey since 1950, only nine twisters have occurred earlier in the day.
Having said that, while it might appear that tornadoes are not a common occurrence in the Garden State, they do touch down occasionally. According to state data, New Jersey has had about two or three tornadoes annually in the past 20 years.
Here are other interesting facts you need to know about tornadoes in the New Jersey:
- Going solely on the Enhanced Fujita Scale or EF-Scale, New Jersey has never experienced an EF5 tornado – the strongest type with maximum wind speeds of more than 300 mph. This is the same type of tornado that killed 24 people outside of Oklahoma City in 2013.
What’s more common in the Garden State, however, are EF3 tornadoes,which maximum wind speeds can reach between 136 to 165 mph – capable of destroying barns and lifting cars off the ground.
- Since 1950, New Jersey has only recorded 1 casualty due to tornadoes. This happened on October 27, 2003, when an EF0 tornado started a half-mile rampage near Hainesport. According to reports, the tornado “carried large tree branch 100 feet before it struck and killed a 77-year old Lumberton woman.”
- The state of New Jersey has incurred $69 million in damages due to tornadoes in the past 60 years. However, the state climatologist hasn’t adjusted this estimate for inflation yet. This means that $25,000 worth of damages in 1950 could reach up to $260,000 in today’s dollars. But considering the length of time and the sweeping damage that tornadoes can cause, this amount of damage is far less than how much other states have incurred in the same period.
Based on these facts, it’s safe to say that New Jersey has suffered less from tornadoes compared to its neighboring states in the past recent years. But even if tornadoes are less frequent in New Jersey, it can still cause severe damage to establishments and lives. Neither does it mean that the people of the Garden State can’t do anything to lessen or mitigate the damage that these natural onslaughts can cause on their property.
By seeking the assistance of structural engineers, people can ensure the integrity of their properties before a tornado strikes. In the aftermath, people can also rely on the expertise of structural engineers during the integrity assessment.
Surviving a tornado in a wood-frame residential home can be very challenging. But with their expertise, structural engineers can ensure the safety and durability not only of houses, but of barns, office buildings, and other types of establishments as well. For instance, it is structural engineers who allow for an accurate estimate of the maximum force winds that a warehouse or facility can withstand, and then benchmark it to the usual type of tornado that strikes New Jersey every year – which is EF3 – to see what part of the establishment can be further strengthened or improved.
Structural engineers also ensure that all the materials used in a building are according to building code standards. For example, structural engineers should be able to help a homeowner to determine the optimal material grade that ensures safety during tornadoes without raising the cost. This helps their clients to achieve a durable home in a more cost-effective way.
The duty of structural engineers stretches out until the aftermath of the calamity. After a tornado has dissipated, people can also hire structural engineers to study the damage on their properties, and gauge if those properties can still be repaired or have to be taken for safety and practical reasons. Upon several inspections, investigations, and studies, a structural engineer can provide an accurate estimate of damage that New Jerseyans can use as the basis for filing insurance claims.
In conclusion, with the help of structural engineers, the people and state of New Jersey can rest assured that their properties are strong enough to withstand a tornado – or at least sturdy enough to see the majority of it still standing after a tornado has passed.