Steve Horstmeyer breaks down the 'Tornado Cave' - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Steve Horstmeyer breaks down the 'Tornado Cave'

Finley's tornado map Finley's tornado map
Sketch of a tornado cave Sketch of a tornado cave
(FOX19) -

So just what is a tornado cave? The idea of a tornado cave goes back to the 1880s, and thefirst member of my list of severe storm 'rock stars'.

Sometime in the future, I will reveal allthe members of this elite group.

Lt. John Park Finley was an officer in the U.S. Army SignalCorps, the original home of America's efforts to forecast nationwide weather. Today'sNational Weather Service is the direct descendant of those early efforts.

Lt. Finley was the world's very first tornado scientist. Themap shows his efforts in the 1880s to plot every single tornado that touched down in theUnited States, in an effort to unravel the mystery of these deadly whirlwinds.

Some of thestorms go back to the 1600s.

Finley advocated insurance against tornado damage, offeredadvice on staying safe and presented plans for what he called a 'tornadocave'.

In fact, Finley along with the Burlington Insurance Company in Iowa sponsored a contest for the bestdesign of a tornado cave. The contest was won by architect John R. Church of Rochester, NYout of a total of 122 entries.

His prize was $200, which today is $4,200.

Maybe there is nothing new under the sun, what we call astorm shelter was Finley's tornado cave.

His work makes interesting reading and much of it isavailable free as ebooks on Google books.

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