From the American Meteorological Society’s conference on storm warnings in Oklahoma City we learn that TV tornado warnings — and, how well the TV stations in the market are equipped with the latest technology really does make a difference in the casualty rates of tornadoes.
A paper by Sutter and Simmons of the University of Texas examined numerous variables in an attempt to find out what was most important in cutting the number of deaths and injuries in tornadoes. Turns out the #1 indicator was the number of station-owned Doppler radars (as a proxy for how well TV stations in the markets were equipped overall to cover violent weather).
The second largest indicator was income, which is something demographers have known for a long time. The higher the average income, the more robust the housing stock and the better sheltered people are for tornadoes. We learned that 7% of the housing in the U.S. is mobile homes but they account for 43% of tornado fatalities!
One somewhat amusing note from the conference was that a scientist due to deliver a paper on forecasting was not here this afternoon because he was hung up by an airline delay due to weather.
The airlines have gotten so bad (worst industry in terms of customer service per a new study of 47 industries) that I now plan to go in the day before. As a meteorologist, it really looks bad if I cannot make it due to weather, especially since I constantly preach the virtues of proactive weather risk mitigation.