Examining the Effect of Tornadoes on Population in Oklahoma

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Sunday, 17 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Eric Scott Apel, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL; and R. D. Ostrowski and P. A. Watson

Every spring and summer, tornadoes rip through America's heartland. In Oklahoma, many of these tornadoes strike populated areas such as Moore and Oklahoma City. This makes understanding how tornadoes affect population in these areas very important. This research examines the effects different aspects of tornadoes have on population in 27 towns in Oklahoma. The different aspects being examined are frequency, intensity, monetary damage, deaths caused, and injuries caused. The research also looks at 27 towns in Oklahoma that were more or less not affected by tornado occurrences. These are being used as a control. A span of 50 years, from 1950 to 2000 is being used for the research.

Through the research process, we hope to see a pattern develop that shows a definite correlation between the different aspects of tornadoes and the population change in each town. Since tornadoes affect people across the central plains every year, we hope this research will help in understanding exactly how they affect the people living there. In doing so, we can have a better grasp on how everyday people deal with the natural phenomenon they have no control over; in turn helping meteorologists of today stay in touch with the people we serve. In the future, we hope to extend the research to include the entire central plains region.