Friday, March 16, 2012

Tornado pressure

“Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you” –Psalm 55:22

Pressure seems to bring out the best and the worst in all of us. Just watch a few basketball games this weekend (and there will be plenty)! Put yourself on that foul line with all the distractions. I’m not sure I could breathe much less sink a free throw! But for some, the pressure makes them play better. For others (me), the pressure definitely decreases the pleasure. Pressure is a part of life and how we teach our kids how to deal with it will affect them the rest of their lives.

The aftermath of the Leap year Branson tornado has a lot of people talking about what tornadoes are and how they work. I am an avid watcher of the Weather Channel. Jeanie will often quiz me, “Why are you watching the forecast again? You just watched it!” She’s right. But I can't seem to get enough of it. I’ve heard people say that the best thing to do when a tornado is headed toward your house is to open all the windows and doors. The logic is that when the low pressure created by the tornado meets the high pressure inside in the house, the house will explode. They say, opening the windows lowers the pressure. Video footage of tornadoes hitting houses seems to support that theory.

There’s only one problem. That theory isn't true.

The air pressure differential between the inside of your home and inside of a tornado is not that great. The Texas Tech’s Institute for Disaster Research conducted several experiments and concluded that the pressure drop found inside a tornado with winds speeds of 260 mph (just shy of an F5 tornado) was only about 10%. That’s about 1.4 pounds per square inch, which really isn’t that much. Most well built houses and buildings can vent this great a pressure change with no ill affects on the dwelling, even if all the windows and doors are closed. There are attic openings, chimneys, furnace vents, and other small openings underneath doors and closed windows for which the air can escape. It’s not the pressure differential that destroys a house when a tornado hits, even though it may look like the house is exploding.

Here’s the irony. When all the windows and doors are opened, it allows the tremendous wind speeds and moisture to do even more damage to the house. It seems that a strategy to reduce damage to the structure actually increases the likelihood that damage will occur.

That’s the way it is with pressure. When we encounter pressure-packed life circumstances, the way we respond makes all the difference. Sometimes it seems to make sense to fret, worry and try to control our way through pressure. Kind of like opening those windows, it just makes logical sense to worry. I think we have a warped since of control in out-of-control situations when we worry. But the Bible makes it pretty clear- worrying accomplishes nothing, and it doesn’t “add a single cubit to your life.” And remember mom and dad, little eyes are watching us and remembering how they see us deal with difficulty.

A website on tornado safety says, “There is no evidence that any opening of windows ever helped to hold a roof in place. The best advice is still to forget the windows and get to a shelter.” 
So, next time difficulties blow your way, how about leaving the windows alone and running to the safety of a loving God that wants to be our shelter. It doesn't mean we’ll sink the free throws, but it does mean we’ll be at peace as we take the shot.

And it does mean we’ll be in the safety of the arms of Jesus, whether the storm hits our house or not.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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