In the United States, tornadoes are the third leading cause of fatalities from natural disasters1. To aid prevention and mitigation of tornado-related morbidity and mortality, improvement in standardizing tornado specific threat analysis terminology was assessed. The largest number of tornado-related fatalities has occurred in the state of Texas for over a hundred years. The occurrence of tornadic clusters or “outbreaks” has not been formally standardized. The concept of “tornado outbreaks” is better defined and its role in fatality mitigation is addressed in this Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved study.
To understand the role of “tornado outbreaks” related clusters in Texas in relationship to morbidity and mortality.
This IRB approved (IRB2017- 0507) research study utilized GIS tools and statistical analysis of historical data to examine the relationship between tornado severity (based on the Fujita Scale), the number of tornadoes, and the trends in morbidity and mortality. This study was funded in part from The National Science Foundation grant (NSF Grant #1560106) in support of the CyberHealthGIS Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).
A statistically significant difference was demonstrated between the severity of a tornado and related morbidity and mortality during “tornado outbreaks” in Texas during a defined 30-year period.
Understanding the role and discerning the impacts of “tornado outbreaks” as related to tornado severity has critical implications to disaster preparedness. Applications of this conclusion may improve shelter planning/preparation, timely warning, and educating the at-risk public. Subsequently, examining the likelihood and improved descriptions of “tornado outbreaks” may aid in reducing the number of tornado-related injuries and fatalities nationally.