What the Recent Tornadoes Teach Us About Owning a Water Filter
After a relatively quiet 2013, there has been an uptick in tornado activity recently across the midwestern and southern states. Just last month, severe storms in the South and Midwest killed at least 35 people, including 15 in Arkansas. For those unfamiliar with tornadoes, they can strike any time of the year, but general have seasons of higher activity.
Where Tornadoes Generally Strike
In the South, tornado season is typically from March to May. In the Southern Plains, it lasts from May to early June. On the Gulf Coast, tornadoes occur most often during the spring. And in the Northern Plains, Northern states and upper Midwest, peak season is in June or July.
The two regions with a higher incidence of tornadoes are Florida and Tornado Alley. Florida’s high tornado frequency is credited to their almost daily thunderstorms, as well as the many tropical storms and hurricanes that affect the Florida peninsula.
Tornado Alley refers to a strip of land going north to south that covers the northern region of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, the eastern edge of Colorado, southwest tip of South Dakota and the southern edge of Minnesota. Tornadoes in this area typically occur in the late spring.
In the Gulf Coast region, Dixie Alley refers to West Tennessee, West Kentucky, North Mississippi and North Alabama. These states experience a significantly later tornado season that occurs in the late fall from October through December.
The United States has some of the most severe tornadoes anywhere in the world. The obvious danger to avoid is when a storm is actually tearing through your neighborhood. But what about the aftermath of a storm? People rarely focus on the problems people have to face after a storm has destroyed property and infrastructure.
One of the most pressing worries is clean water. Tornadoes typically destroy the electric grid causing obvious problems but can also disrupt and contaminate the water supply. You can only keep so much clean water in storage, but even that runs the risk of getting destroyed in a tornado. So what can you do?
Berkey and Katadyn Water Filters
The Big Berkey is our favorite in the Berkey product line. All Berkey filters are gravity fed, which simply means you pour water into the top of the unit and the force of gravity will pull the water down through the filters. It’s a very easy process, and it has several advantages over other types of filters that use pumps or electricity. Pumps can break down and there may be times when you don’t have access to electricity.
The Big Berkey can filter water at a rate of 3.5 gallons per hour, which should be plenty for most applications and family sizes. It removes bacteria, parasites, herbicides, pesticides, solvents, nitrates, nitrites, lead, mercury, chlorine, VOCs, and even fluoride. Obviously, the dirtier the water you put through it the longer it will take and the more frequently you will have to clean the filters. To read the full review and watch a video, click here.
Among the Katadyn products, we have had good luck with the Pocket Filter. The Pocket uses pump technology rather than being gravity fed. As with everything, there are pros and cons to this. The con is that forcing water through the filter causes stress to the parts, and they will eventually break down. The pros include ease of use (just put the hose mouth into a water source and start pumping) and ability to work in wilderness locations (think about how easy it is to put one end of the hose into a small stream).
The Katadyn Pocket filter uses ceramic filtration and can be cleaned hundreds of times. This is not a disposable filter that must be replaced frequently. It eliminates bacteria, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores, and sediments larger than .2 microns. The Pocket has a capacity of 50,000 liters (roughly 13,000 gallons) and can filter about a liter per minute.
We think a good filter is a must for anyone living in tornado country. It’s almost impossible to store enough clean water, and you run the risk of your water storage being damaged by the storm. The most practical solution is to purchase a relatively inexpensive water filter ($250-$350) and find a water source.