1.2 An Interdisciplinary Approach to Understanding Public Safety Challenges from Nocturnal Tornadoes

Monday, 22 October 2018: 9:15 AM
Pinnacle room (Stoweflake Mountain Resort )
Kelsey N. Ellis, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN; and L. R. Mason

In the state of Tennessee the incidence of killer tornadoes, particularly those occurring at night, is among the highest in the world. The first step to decreasing fatalities from tornado events, including those happening at night, is to attain a better understanding of the meteorological, climatological, socioeconomic, and communication challenges leading to these fatalities, followed by a cooperative effort to apply these findings to improve public safety. Nocturnal tornadoes are unique because they cannot easily be seen, occur when the public may be asleep, and happen in a different ambient environment, and therefore require a special focus to isolate factors leading to fatalities. We employ a climatological analysis; phone surveys (n=1804) and in-depth interviews (n=45) with residents of Tennessee; and in-depth interviews with forecasters (n=12) at the three National Weather Service (NWS) forecasting offices in Tennessee to better understand the public safety challenges that exist surrounding nocturnal tornadoes across the state. We present information regarding the climatology of nocturnal tornadoes, including the types of storms causing them across the state; the public’s understanding of their nocturnal tornado risk, access to nocturnal tornado warnings, and response to nocturnal tornado warnings; and unique challenges to NWS forecasters associated with these nighttime severe weather events.
- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner