Assessing Tornado watches for Accuracy, Impacts on Daily Activities, and Potential Economic Impacts
Gutter, Barrett Frank
AdvisorBrown, Michael E.
CommitteeFuhrmann, Christopher M.
Rodgers III, John C.
Cooke III, William H.
During 2007 – 2015, a total of 2,359 tornado watches were issued by the Storm Prediction Center and 10,840 tornadoes were confirmed. The objective of the first part of this study analyzed the accuracy of tornado watches for the nine-year period of 2007 – 2015. In addition to accuracy, fatalities, lead times, valid watch times, and areas were calculated for each tornado watch. 58.80% of the tornado watches had at least one tornado inside the tornado watch and 27.43% had at least one tornado outside the tornado watch. Of the 10,840 tornadoes, 56.70% were inside a tornado watch, 9.69% were outside a tornado watch, and 33.62% occurred when there was no tornado watch in effect. The average valid time for a tornado watch was 6 hours and 50 minutes and the average lead time for a tornado was 2 hours and 8 minutes. The second objective utilized a survey to determine participant knowledge and better understand “watch severity response”. A majority of the survey respondents accurately identified the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. Most of the respondents described their weather knowledge as ‘moderately knowledgeable,’ ‘very knowledgeable,’ or ‘slightly knowledgeable.’ TV meteorologists, the NWS, and weather apps are the most common sources for daily weather information and information regarding a tornado watch. 81.63% of the respondents correctly identified if they were under a tornado watch during 2016. As the severity of the watch or the length of the activity increased, the likelihood of the respondent continuing the activity decreased. 38.87%, 54.76%, and 79.18% of the respondents ‘probably would not’ or ‘definitely would not’ continue an activity, lasting any duration, during a severe thunderstorm watch, a tornado watch, or a PDS tornado watch, respectively. The final objective attempts to categorize simple economic response to various watch severity types. The percent of respondents who would not continue an activity, based on the severity of the watch, was applied to a variety of watches that occurred during 2016. The economic loss associated with a watch ranged from $498,332.15 – $107,126,919.19.