Recently I have seen the following article come under criticism: http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/weaker-tornadoes-a-saving-grac-1/63739
To sum it up in one sentence: Dallas is lucky the recent tornadoes weren’t stronger or the devastation would have been worse.
I would have to say I agree with the article though. One problem is many times people try to judge a tornado by its visual appearance. The Dallas area tornadoes were certainly photogenic and a sight to behold. Some exhibited strong visual vertical motion and impressive rotation along with dramatic videos of semis being thrown and powerflashes. When the tornadoes struck residential areas though, most of the damage consisted of roofs being ripped apart and smaller outbuildings being collapsed. Even when watching the live coverage I thought to myself “it could have been much worse.”
While losing the roof of your house is certainly significant and costly damage. It is a far cry from having your house being totally swept away by a violent tornado. While any tornado can kill you, it is not rocket science that the stronger the tornado, the greater the risk of injury or even death. As chasers we like to play hero and consistently preach tornado safety, and that every tornado can kill you. While these statements are certainly true, one cannot ignore the facts. The Dallas area tornadoes were strong, but thankfully not violent (Violent tornadoes are classified as EF-4 and EF-5 and account for more than half of all tornado related fatalities.] Had these tornadoes been stronger while moving through densely populate areas, the situation would have been much, much worse.
As the article says though, it is important to understand that even the weakest tornado can kill you if you are not in proper shelter. You can be outside, in a car and all it takes is a falling tree branch to crush you. Every tornado warning should be taken seriously. In my opinion the article is not downplaying the event, just stating the facts and is a well written piece.