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American Meteorology Society Journals Online - Tornado Damage Survey at Moore, Oklahoma

After the May 3, 1999, Moore / Midwest City tornado, the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University conducted a damage survey to determine the causes of structural failure. The team found that methods of construction -- joining roof to walls to slab -- permitted by code were inadequate to handle structural loads caused when the wind lifts up the roof. When a home is destroyed by a tornado, it becomes a collection of projectiles that the tornado can use to destroy the next house. Even if you build a sturdier house, it can be destroyed by the whirling remains of the shoddy home next door. The team was disappointed to learn that new houses being built after the tornado failed to incorporate improvements that would make the structures more resilient to high winds.

"Although it is true there are no provisions in building codes to construct houses to resist tornadoes, building codes are still important in mitigating tornado damage. A better-built house would yield less debris in a tornado, and occupants would have a better chance of surviving in such a house. In addition, structural improvements could reduce the level of damage to a house that experiences weaker tornadoes or straight-line thunderstorm winds that are just above code-required design levels and hence could mitigate economic loss and improve safety."

"As noted from our damage survey, numerous housing failures initiated with destruction of attached garages. In a typical case, garage doors blew in, allowing internal pressures to act in combination with external aerodynamic uplift pressures to remove the garage roof structure. Uplift on the roof structure caused toenailed connections in the wooden top plates to pull apart. Destruction of the attached garage frequently led to damage or the removal of the remaining roof structure on the residence."

"When the author visited the post-tornado reconstruction area, 6 of the 40 new houses contained tornado shelters or safe rooms; however, these homes generally were not built any better than prior to the tornado. Thus, homeowners appeared to be making the decision to provide for personal safety (i.e., building a safe room) instead of to increase housing strength (to provide property protection and increased safety). This decision may, in part, be based on the assumption that it is unreasonable or uneconomical to try to construct houses for the high wind speeds described on the F scale."

Google Earth Engine: Landsat Annual Timelapse 1984-2012

This view is centered on Tulsa, but you can look anywhere and watch the process of development and road-building.

NYC Municipal Archives Online Gallery

A virtual time machine! See this Daily Mail story for some beautiful examples of photographed urban history from the New York City Municipal Archives.

"Welcome to the New York City Municipal Archives Online Gallery of over 870,000 images. Selected from the world-class historical collections of the Archives, most of these unique photographs, maps, motion picture and audio recordings are being made accessible for the first time. Visitors are invited to explore and search the collections individually, or across all collections by keyword or any of the advanced search criteria. The gallery includes many complete collections; for others, only representative samples are currently on display. Visitors are encouraged to return frequently as new content will be added on a regular basis. Patrons may order reproductions in the form of prints or digital files; most images can be licensed for commercial use. Please see the order page for further details."

URBANPHOTO: Cities / People / Place » The Underground City

The evolution and surprising extent of Montreal below ground.

Ballot - Redesign Metro Map Contest - Greater Greater Washington

Lots of tradeoffs involved in making a readable, useful map of a subway system -- depicting the schematic relationships between lines and stations, depicting relationships with the above-ground street network and landmarks, depicting distance while rendering congested areas with clarity. Here are 20 different approaches to redrawing the Washington Metro map. Vote for your favorites!

Safeway has extensively remodeled its store near Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto, but managed to maintain the store's footprint and most of its structure.

Click this link for a Google Maps view of the Berkeley Safeway before and after -- the aerial view is before, the satellite view is after.

And after 7 years, Oakland has greenlighted a replacement for the College and Claremont Safeway in the Rockridge neighborhood. It has parking on the roof and does a nice job of filling in an underused corner.

Uniting Laptop Campers

This is a blogger after my own heart: Photos and detailed reviews of coffeehouses in San Francisco and Seattle from the perspective of someone who intends to "camp out" and work on a laptop for a while. Each coffeehouse is rated on a scale of 0 to 5 in 10 different categories: food, coffee, wi-fi (is it secure, steady, free, fast?), ambiance, noise, plugs, parking, comfort, bathroom, and art.


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SFpark: San Francisco parking finder

Smart parking meters keep track of parking availability in congested districts. A special app built on Google Maps lets you know where parking can be found and how much it will cost.

The American Consumer Project: Find Your County - Advertising Age

Interactive maps show each county in the US color-coded for two different "consumer targeting frameworks" -- Patchwork Nation and Esri's Tapestry. Point at a county, see how it's categorized, its median income, and the change in income over the last decade. Tulsa County is classified as "Boom Towns" (Patchwork), "Traditional Living" (Tapestry), with a 2010 median income of $50,267, increasing 0.4% over the decade.