International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 91–105 | Cite as

A respiratory alert model for the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, USA

  • David M. Hondula
  • Robert E. Davis
  • David B. Knight
  • Luke J. Sitka
  • Kyle Enfield
  • Stephen B. Gawtry
  • Phillip J. Stenger
  • Michael L. Deaton
  • Caroline P. Normile
  • Temple R. Lee
Original Paper


Respiratory morbidity (particularly COPD and asthma) can be influenced by short-term weather fluctuations that affect air quality and lung function. We developed a model to evaluate meteorological conditions associated with respiratory hospital admissions in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, USA. We generated ensembles of classification trees based on six years of respiratory-related hospital admissions (64,620 cases) and a suite of 83 potential environmental predictor variables. As our goal was to identify short-term weather linkages to high admission periods, the dependent variable was formulated as a binary classification of five-day moving average respiratory admission departures from the seasonal mean value. Accounting for seasonality removed the long-term apparent inverse relationship between temperature and admissions. We generated eight total models specific to the northern and southern portions of the valley for each season. All eight models demonstrate predictive skill (mean odds ratio = 3.635) when evaluated using a randomization procedure. The predictor variables selected by the ensembling algorithm vary across models, and both meteorological and air quality variables are included. In general, the models indicate complex linkages between respiratory health and environmental conditions that may be difficult to identify using more traditional approaches.


Respiratory health Weather Air quality COPD Classification tree Virginia 



The ShenAir project was funded by NOAA Grant #529222. David Knight was partially supported by an American Meteorological Society Industry Fellowship and David Hondula was partially supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.


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Copyright information

© ISB 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Hondula
    • 1
  • Robert E. Davis
    • 1
  • David B. Knight
    • 1
  • Luke J. Sitka
    • 1
  • Kyle Enfield
    • 2
  • Stephen B. Gawtry
    • 1
  • Phillip J. Stenger
    • 1
  • Michael L. Deaton
    • 3
  • Caroline P. Normile
    • 1
  • Temple R. Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.School of MedicineUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Integrated Science and TechnologyJames Madison UniversityHarrisonburgUSA

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