Another Design Experiment . November 20, 2015

This Week: The Kansas Project Site Impacted By Tornadic Supercell

This past week, on Monday November 16, the most prolific Autumn tornado outbreak in the region’s history struck the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, as well as Western Kansas. By the time the day was over, forty seven tornadoes had been reported, many of them long-track and strong or violent, most of which struck after dark. In particular, one powerful cyclic supercell developed near Lubbock, Texas, then raced through that panhandle, into Oklahoma and then Kansas, taking direct aim Barber County and the site of The Kansas Project.

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Tornado Warncing
tornado paths

Before reaching the site of The Kansas Project, the path of the parent supercell took a northward jog, as did that of the tornado. The tornado dissipated southwest of the site and never entered Barber County, but the supercell thunderstorm did clip the northwestern corner of the county as the storm passed by the site within a matter of miles to the west. From the site, one would have had a spectacular view of the supercell’s structure and possibly even the distant tornado which likely would have been in its dissipating rope stage. These storm features would have been lit up and made visible by a lightning display that alone would have been awe inspiring.

Had the storm not jogged north and instead continued toward the site, shelter would have been needed. Torrential rains, near and constant lightning strikes, golf ball sized hail and straight-line winds on the order of 60 to 80 mph could have been experienced at the site, along with the close or direct passage of a tornado. Given the Guiding Threads of The Kansas Project, what more relevant case study could we hope for as we work to design and build a weather-centric dwelling, using architecture as a tool to foster a more symbiotic relationship between people and the elements?

Guiding Principles

Next week, we get back to concept design!