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The Tornado Warning Process: A Review of Current Research, Challenges, and Opportunities

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  • 1 University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 2 Department of Sociology and Anthropology, The University of Texas–Pan American, Edinburg, Texas
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With the unusually violent tornado season of 2011, there has been a renewed national interest, through such programs as NOAA's Weather Ready Nation initiative, to reevaluate and improve our tornado warning process. This literature review provides an interdisciplinary, end-to-end examination of the tornado warning process. Following the steps outlined by the Integrated Warning System, current research in tornado prediction and detection, the warning decision process, warning dissemination, and public response are reviewed, and some of the major challenges for improving each stage are highlighted. The progress and challenges in multi-day to short-term tornado prediction are discussed, followed by an examination of tornado detection, focused primarily upon the contributions made by weather radar and storm spotters. Next is a review of the warning decision process and the challenges associated with dissemination of the warning, followed by a discussion of the complexities associated with understanding public response. Finally, several research opportunities are considered, with emphases on understanding acceptable risk, greater community and personal preparation, and personalization of the hazard risk.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Jerry Brotzge, Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, University of Oklahoma, 120 David L. Boren Blvd., Suite 2500, Norman, OK 73072-7309, E-mail: jbrotzge@ou.edu

With the unusually violent tornado season of 2011, there has been a renewed national interest, through such programs as NOAA's Weather Ready Nation initiative, to reevaluate and improve our tornado warning process. This literature review provides an interdisciplinary, end-to-end examination of the tornado warning process. Following the steps outlined by the Integrated Warning System, current research in tornado prediction and detection, the warning decision process, warning dissemination, and public response are reviewed, and some of the major challenges for improving each stage are highlighted. The progress and challenges in multi-day to short-term tornado prediction are discussed, followed by an examination of tornado detection, focused primarily upon the contributions made by weather radar and storm spotters. Next is a review of the warning decision process and the challenges associated with dissemination of the warning, followed by a discussion of the complexities associated with understanding public response. Finally, several research opportunities are considered, with emphases on understanding acceptable risk, greater community and personal preparation, and personalization of the hazard risk.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Jerry Brotzge, Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, University of Oklahoma, 120 David L. Boren Blvd., Suite 2500, Norman, OK 73072-7309, E-mail: jbrotzge@ou.edu
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