, Volume 79, Issue 6, pp 791-804

First online:

Tornado folk science in Alabama and Mississippi in the 27 April 2011 tornado outbreak

  • Kimberly E. KlockowAffiliated withUniversity of Oklahoma Email author 
  • , Randy A. PepplerAffiliated withUniversity of Oklahoma
  • , Renee A. McPhersonAffiliated withUniversity of Oklahoma

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In this paper, we collect, categorize, and discuss the existence of numerous ways of knowing about tornado threat that largely differ from the perspective taken by the meteorological community. These alternate ways of knowing became apparent during interviews with survivors of the 27 April 2011 tornado outbreak in the US southeast, particularly in Alabama and Mississippi. Phenomena discussed herein include perceptions of safety near waterways, vulnerability near a specific highway with a recently modified landscape, the protective nature of hills, relative optimism about home sites, and local observational weather knowledge. Theoretical explanations offered for these observed phenomena include ideas from risk perception and place attachment literatures.


Tornadoes Risk perception Folk science Place attachment Alabama Mississippi