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Daphne S. LaDue
,
David Roueche
,
Frank Lombardo
, and
Lara Mayeux

Abstract

When a tornado strikes a permanent or mobile/manufactured home, occupants are at risk of injury and death from blunt force trauma caused by debris-loaded winds and failure of the structure. Mechanisms for these failures have been studied for the past few decades and identified common weaknesses in the structural load path. Also under study in recent decades, much has been learned about how people receive and understand warnings and determine how, when, and if they will shelter in advance. Recent research, for example, shows most people do not shelter until close to impact, after seeing, hearing, or feeling the approaching tornado. To advance beyond these innovations, a new, multi-disciplinary approach was fielded in nine Southeast U.S. tornadoes between 2019 and 2022. For each tornado, 1) wind engineering assessments documented near-surface wind fields, 2) structural engineering assessments documented the primary wind load path for each structure, and 3) social science interviews captured the survivor’s narrative and asked several follow-up questions to assure key items of interest were addressed in each interview. When possible, the team was multi-disciplinary during the interview, enabling survivors to ask questions and better understand their experiences. Most survivors became aware of the approaching tornado with at least a few minutes lead time and most were able to reach a place of refuge. Most survivors recalled sensory experiences during the tornado and about half could describe direction or temporal sequences of damage. A case study of the Cookeville, Tennessee, Tornado of 3 March 2020 illustrates the power of the integrated data assessment.

Open access
Christine J. Kirchhoff
,
Joseph J. Barsugli
,
Gillian L. Galford
,
Ambarish V. Karmalkar
,
Kelly Lombardo
,
Scott R. Stephenson
,
Mathew Barlow
,
Anji Seth
,
Guiling Wang
, and
Austin Frank

Abstract

Global and national climate assessments are comprehensive, authoritative sources of information about observed and projected climate changes and their impacts on society. These assessments follow well-known, accepted procedures to create credible, legitimate, salient sources of information for policy- and decision-making, build capacity for action, and educate the public. While there is a great deal of research on assessments at global and national scales, there is little research or guidance for assessment at the U.S. state scale. To address the need for guidance for state climate assessments (SCAs), the authors combined insights from the literature, firsthand experience with four SCAs, and interviews with individuals involved in 10 other SCAs to identify challenges, draw lessons, and point out future research needs to guide SCAs. SCAs are challenged by sparseness of literature and data, insufficient support for ongoing assessment, short time lines, limited funding, and surprisingly, little deliberate effort to address legitimacy as a concern. Lessons learned suggest SCAs should consider credibility, legitimacy, and salience as core criteria; happen at regular intervals; identify assessment scope, resource allocation, and trade-offs between generation of new knowledge, engagement, and communication up front; and leverage boundary organizations. Future research should build on ongoing efforts to advance assessments, examine the effectiveness of different SCA approaches, and seek to inform both broad and specific guidance for SCAs.

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