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Development and Analysis of a Database of Tornado Impacts on U.S. Critical Facilities

Published

Author(s)

Nicholas de Toledo, Marc Levitan, Jamil Malik, Warren Stewart, Katherine Johnson, Patrick Crawford

Abstract

Despite the significant hazard that tornadoes pose, much remains to be learned about the impacts of tornadoes on critical facilities in the United States. While a number of post-storm reports have documented the damage from individual tornadoes or tornado outbreaks, there is a major gap in the availability of data describing the cumulative national impacts of tornadoes on critical facilities. In response to this gap, we are creating a database of tornado impacts on critical facilities (e.g., schools, hospitals, etc.) by mining National Weather Service narratives from the National Centers for Environmental Information Storm Events Database. The first stage in the creation of the critical facility impacts database includes documentation of preschool-12th grade schools hit by tornadoes recorded in the Storm Events Database between 1993 and 2020. To date, we have identified 669 schools that were struck by tornadoes, for an average of approximately 24 per year. The NWS narratives do not include an exhaustive list of facilities affected by each tornado, therefore it is likely that other schools were hit by tornadoes during this period but not recorded, and the true number of schools struck by tornadoes is higher. To overcome underestimation inherent in the narrative analysis, we are developing a complementary GIS method to identify critical facilities struck by tornadoes using tornado damage polygons from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Damage Assessment Toolkit and various critical facility location datasets. Preliminary results from applying this method to schools indicate a high likelihood of capturing additional impacted facilities not found through mining the NWS narratives.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of the 14th Americas Conference on Wind Engineering
Conference Dates
May 17-19, 2022
Conference Location
Lubbock, TX, US
Conference Title
14th Americas Conference on Wind Engineering

Keywords

tornado, tornado damage, school damage, NCEI Storm Events Database, critical facilities, tornado database

Citation

de Toledo, N. , Levitan, M. , Malik, J. , Stewart, W. , Johnson, K. and Crawford, P. (2022), Development and Analysis of a Database of Tornado Impacts on U.S. Critical Facilities, Proceedings of the 14th Americas Conference on Wind Engineering, Lubbock, TX, US, [online], https://tsapps.nist.gov/publication/get_pdf.cfm?pub_id=934425 (Accessed February 1, 2023)
Created May 17, 2022, Updated November 29, 2022