Tornado Alley verses Dixie Alley: An Investigation into the Imbalance of Tornado Fatalities and Injuries between Regions

Authors: Zebulon Wallace*, Minot State University
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Rural Geography
Keywords: Tornado, Hazards, Rural, Emergency Management, Perception
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Tornadoes in the United States are very common in the central plains, a region known as Tornado Alley. However, fatalities and injuries in a region known as Dixie Alley in the southeast outpace those in Tornado Alley, where the frequency of tornadoes is slightly higher. By surveying two rural communities from each region, this work investigates whether there is a difference in access to, use of, trust in, and delivery preference for information that may help account for the imbalance of fatalities and injuries. Steps to refine and tailor risk communications to residents with differing perceptions of tornado risk have important life-safety implications. Comparing the methods that residents use to receive warning information and the sources they trust is a step towards that end. Findings reveal differences in platform access and reliance between regions, but communities do have access to a variety of platforms. This indicates that finding more dissemination platforms for these communities is not the priority since residents are receiving the warning messages. Findings also reveal differences in trust levels for each region, with Dixie Alley tending to have a higher level of trust in authorities. Despite the higher level of trust and multiple platforms, tornado deaths in Dixie Alley still outpace tornado deaths in Tornado Alley. The next step is to determine what actions residents take once they receive the message that may help explain these losses and to investigate how emergency managers can use indirect experience to help residents in both regions prepare for tornadoes.

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