92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012: 2:45 PM
"Folk Science": Local, Situated Understandings of the Tornado Hazard on April 27, 2011 in Alabama and Mississippi
Room 243 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Kimberly E. Klockow, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and R. A. Peppler

When catastrophic hazards occur, the decisions individuals make regarding response do not consist solely of simple data collection and perfectly objective risk estimation exercises. Individuals instead couple personal observations, past experiences and memory with information gathered from outside sources of many kinds, arriving at a very personal and yet also social and perhaps cultural understanding of any given risk or hazard. Previous research has shown that social relationships, socio-cultural values and preferences, and access to information and sheltering options all play a role in shaping the ways individuals both understand risks and respond to them. Repeated exposure to a particular hazard adds to a person's personal knowledge base about it and may affect his or her aversion to the risk it presents. Adding to this discourse for tornado risk and understanding, this presentation will document the “folk science," or the local way people framed and understood tornado hazards from their own uniquely situated places of understanding in Alabama and Mississippi, when faced with the violent tornado outbreak of April 27, 2011. Relationships between folk science/local understanding, warning information received during the event, and hazard responses will be explored.

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