The correlation between tornadoes and population density changes in Illinois

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Sunday, 17 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
David J. Anderson, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL; and J. A. Maples Sr.

Through our research, we intend to support the idea that not only population density has affected the number of tornado reports, but also that housing density has become a vivid factor. Through the last several decades, many questions have been coined concerning the increase in the number of severe weather events. As a result, a wide variety of topics has surfaced, including the correlation between population increase and the number of tornados reported. However, most studies have consisted of state-by-state level data sets, while we have narrowed to a county-by-county approach. The area of interest in our study is central Illinois, covered by the Lincoln, Illinois National Weather Service Forecast Office. Here, we expect to find variability in population density through time, housing density through time, and the number of tornadoes reported per decade. While most areas of central Illinois consist of farmland, many larger towns and city areas reside within our focal point. We intend to capture this variability and determine whether population density or housing density seems to be a more direct correlation to the number of tornadoes reported, or whether both correlate as strong as the other.