PBS Terra channel features Sutley, lessons from Linwood tornado

Published on April 20, 2021


NHERI research engineer Elaina Sutley, assistant professor at the University of Kansas, recently appeared on the PBS Terra channel to discuss the EF4 tornado that hit Linwood, Kansas, in May of 2019. Sutley took part in the post-event reconnaissance mission, organized by NSF-funded StEER, that documented the storm’s damage.

The tornado, up to a mile wide, was on the ground for nearly an hour. It carved a path 31 miles long, destroying 19 homes and damaging 50. In surveying the town’s severely damaged structures, Sutley and the StEER team saw roofs not properly connected to walls, and walls not connected to foundations. Some houses were swept completely off their foundations. Sutley emphasizes the real problem: a lack of building codes that consider tornado loads.

Watch the episode, called Tornado Warning: Survive Nature's Wildest Winds, on YouTube. Sutley appears at the 5:18 mark. The show has more than 21,000 views and hundreds of upvotes and comments, demonstrating high public interest in protecting homes from tornadic winds. The StEER FAST report is available in the NHERI DesignSafe Data Depot.