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In Texas, More Sprawl Means More Homes in the Path of Tornadoes

Revisiting one day in 2012, a reporter finds that many of the Dallas-Fort Worth areas affected by the storms were barely inhabited 20 years ago.
May 20, 2018, 1pm PDT | Katharine Jose
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David P. Smith

At the Texas Tribune, Daniel Levy recounts one day in 2012 during which 17 tornadoes caused $700 million in damages across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It’s partly memorable for the 110 airplanes taken out, but it’s also memorable because it demonstrates how sprawl makes people and places more vulnerable to natural disasters.

The strongest tornado of the day struck Forney, a suburb 20 miles east of downtown Dallas. Forney has grown by more than 230 percent since 2000, adding 13,000 residents. At 2:33 p.m., an EF-3 tornado with peak winds of 170 mph tore through more neighborhoods, including the Diamond Creek subdivision, that didn’t exist a decade before.

The article includes a map showing the various paths of the various tornadoes; it demonstrates that many of them of them started, ended or passed through areas that have only been developed in the last 20 years, and others passed through areas that will likely be developed in the next 20.

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Published on Saturday, May 19, 2018 in The Texas Tribune
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