Proposing a tornado watch scale

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University of Alabama Libraries

This thesis provides an overview of language used in tornado safety recommendations from various sources, along with developing a rubric for scaled tornado safety recommendations, and subsequent development and testing of a tornado watch scale. The rubric is used to evaluate tornado refuge/shelter adequacy responses of Tuscaloosa residents gathered following the April 27, 2011 Tuscaloosa, Alabama EF4 tornado. There was a significant difference in the counts of refuge adequacy for Tuscaloosa residents when holding the locations during the April 27th tornado constant and comparing adequacy ratings for weak (EF0-EF1), strong (EF2-EF3) and violent (EF4-EF5) tornadoes. There was also a significant difference when comparing future tornado refuge plans of those same participants to the adequacy ratings for weak, strong and violent tornadoes. The tornado refuge rubric is then revised into a six-class, hierarchical Tornado Watch Scale (TWS) from Level 0 to Level 5 based on the likelihood of high-impact or low-impact severe weather events containing weak, strong or violent tornadoes. These levels represent maximum expected tornado intensity and include tornado safety recommendations from the tornado refuge rubric. Audio recordings similar to those used in current National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio communications were developed to correspond to three levels of the TWS, a current Storm Prediction Center (SPC) tornado watch and a particularly dangerous situation (PDS) tornado watch. These were then used in interviews of Alabama residents to determine how changes to the information contained in the watch statements would affect each participant's tornado safety actions and perception of event danger. Results from interview participants (n=38) indicate a strong preference (97.37%) for the TWS when compared to current tornado watch and PDS tornado watch statements. Results also show the TWS elicits more adequate safety decisions from participants along with a more appropriate perception of the danger being conveyed by each statement.

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Atmospheric sciences, Social research