I have lived in the Midwest my entire life and have experienced countless tornado warnings. I have watched the sky turn green and listened to rain and hail pound the roof as I huddled in the closet praying I would stay on the ground.
So far I have been lucky enough to emerge and cry at the sight of it all and at the lack of it all. Only large slabs of concrete remaining where houses once stood. A neighbor's car overturned, two miles away from its garage. Debris littering every lawn and field as far you can see. Large, mature trees literally ripped up out of the ground and laying on their sides as though they had been tossed like twigs.
Clearly I am biased in my contention that tornadoes are far more dangerous than hurricanes. I am biased, but not without logical argument. As we move forward from the wake of storms such as Katrina my feelings may seem misguided, but there is one thing a hurricane offers that a tornado does not . . . time.
Hurricanes are horrible. They are destructive and can take lives and leave the living in a state of great despair. There are those who have described hurricanes to me as extremely large tornadoes armed with the sea. They no doubt destroy, but destruction is not equivalent to danger.
Hurricanes come with warning. They are tracked for hours, days, sometimes weeks before they hit land. The paths are predicted with a relative amount of accurateness and most coastal areas have evacuation routes in place for residents. It is possible to get away from a hurricane. The destruction zone is a known and it can be left. Rule number one of any self-defense class is simple. "Don't be there."
The warning one receives of an oncoming tornado is measured in minutes, if that.
Technology is increasing and scientists are working to increase warning times, but we are not there yet. One hindrance to increasing the warning time associated with a tornado is its unpredictability. A funnel cloud on the ground can wind and weave and change direction in an instant. The destruction zone is too variable. Leaving it is not an option. One, there is no time to leave, and two, there is no way of knowing where safe is.
Again, I do not discredit or make light of the destruction of a hurricane, I hope to never be caught in one. However, just days ago, residents in a town nearby had a mere 13 minutes warning that they were in the path of a deadly tornado. That town is now practically gone.
That is danger.