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Surviving the storm: United States tornado fatalities in context

Authors: Tyler Fricker*, Texas A&M University
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Hazards and Vulnerability, Physical Geography
Keywords: tornado, vulnerability, hazards
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The United States (U.S.) experiences more tornadoes than any other country on Earth. Due to this, the people of the U.S. have a unique risk to the loss of life and property from these severe wind storms. In fact, over the past few decades, nearly 80 people, on average, have been killed in tornadoes in the U.S. every year. In response to this, here I investigate patterns of tornado fatalities in more detail using information from the National Weather Service's Storm Events Database. The goal of this work is to better understand the relationship between population, housing units, and tornado fatality location at the individual tornado-level. The objective is to create tornado fatality rates that exist at the per-capita and per-housing unit level, which presents the opportunity to improve our knowledge of the survivability of individuals to tornadoes. Early results show that the per-capita mobile home fatality rate is over 10 times the per-capita permanent housing (non-mobile home) fatality rate and that the per-mobile home fatality rate is similarly over 10 times the per-permanent housing (non-mobile home) fatality rate. Thus, an individual living in a mobile home is over 10 times as likely to die in a tornado than an individual living in a permanent home. This quantification of U.S. tornado survivability can be leveraged with already known physical and social vulnerabilities to inspire new mitigation strategies or educational outreach programs that aim to reduce the loss of life and property.

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