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Field Research to Application: A study of human response to the May 22, 2011, Joplin tornado and its impact on alerts and warnings in the U.S.

Published

Author(s)

Erica D. Kuligowski

Abstract

A tornado occurred on May 22, 2011in the populated area of Joplin, Missouri that caused 161 fatalities, the most caused by a single tornado since the NWS started keeping records in 1950. A conceptual model of protective action decision-making was developed based on interviews with Joplin tornado survivors to further understand decision-making in response to tornado cues. The model shows that the majority of survivors who were responsible for their own safety and possibly the safety of others (i.e., decision-makers) decided at some point before the tornado hit, that the act of seeking protection was not necessary. Reasons for not taking protection ranged from not perceiving any tornado-related cues to previous experiences with tornadoes, confusing and/or inconsistent emergency communication regarding the tornado (including outdoor warning sirens), and tornado beliefs about Joplin. It was only when audible or visual cues signaled them to the imminent danger did the majority of the decision-makers within this sample take protective action. Since this work was completed, efforts have been underway to translate this research from theory to practice. The findings from this work have been developed into guidance for communities on alerting for tornadoes, including the development of message templates and decision-making tools, to improve methods for communicating with populations under imminent threat of tornadoes and other wind-storm events.
Citation
Natural Hazards

Keywords

tornado, human behavior, emergency communications, alerts, warnings

Citation

Kuligowski, E. (2020), Field Research to Application: A study of human response to the May 22, 2011, Joplin tornado and its impact on alerts and warnings in the U.S., Natural Hazards, [online], https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-020-03945-6 (Accessed May 20, 2024)

Issues

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Created April 30, 2020, Updated May 6, 2020