Whether you're along the seacoast or in the middle of the U.S. Great Plains, there are few things more terrifying than really, really bad weather. Anyone who's experienced a hurricane such as Katrina in 2005 or Sandy in 2012 can testify to their destructive fury. While flooding is a serious problem, the most immediate threat from hurricanes is their powerful winds, which in a worst-case scenario can attain speeds of more than 150 miles (241 kilometers) per hour -- enough to snap trees like twigs, knock down utility poles, rip off roofs and demolish house walls. Such a storm has the potential to render an area uninhabitable for weeks or even months [source: National Hurricane Center].
Even inland, we still have to fear tornadoes -- rotating columns of air that can suddenly strike a smaller area with winds ranging from 100 miles (161 kilometers) per hour to as much as 300 miles (482 kilometers) per hour [source: Jha]. A tornado that ravaged the town of Joplin, Mo. in 2011 took 162 lives and caused an estimated $2.8 billion in damage [source: Rafferty]. And according to scientists, these scary storms may become even more powerful in the future, thanks to climate change [source: NASA].
That's the bad news. But if there's a silver lining to those ominous dark clouds, it's that technology may help us to better withstand the destructive ravages of powerful winds. Here are a few of the most useful ways in which technology can save people from storms.