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Perceptions of tornadoes, tornado risk, and tornado safety actions and their effects on warning response among Nebraska undergraduates

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A survey of 613 undergraduates at a large public university in Nebraska was used to study how participants perceive tornadoes, tornado risk, and appropriate safety actions. Questions were asked to gauge participants’ overall tornado knowledge and response to tornado threat. Many students sought more information before responding to warnings and reported this additional confirmatory information would be necessary for them to respond to future warnings. Some variables were found to be positively or negatively associated with having safety plans and sheltering decisions. Those who responded to the highest proportion of warnings were from the Great Plains, perceived the local city as equally likely to be affected by a tornado compared to the surrounding region, and reported learning tornado-related information primarily from their parents. International students and those gaining most of their tornado-related knowledge from school responded to fewer warnings and took less safe actions overall. Many myths about tornado behavior and tornado safety were found to be prevalent.

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The lead author was supported by a teaching assistantship and the second author by an academic appointment at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln. Michael Veres is thanked for support with programming for the statistical analysis and for providing useful discussions. Andrew Gabel is acknowledged for help with survey administration and initial coding rubric refinement. Two anonymous reviewers are thanked for their very helpful suggestions. The students who took the survey and the professors who allowed it are also thanked.

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Correspondence to Sabrina T. Jauernic.

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Research involving human participants was conducted, and informed consent was gained through signature of the participants. Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval was gained from the institution where the survey was conducted. The informed consent form as presented to the participants is available as a PDF upon request.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Appendix: Questions and scoring/coding rubrics for each

Appendix: Questions and scoring/coding rubrics for each

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Jauernic, S.T., Van Den Broeke, M.S. Perceptions of tornadoes, tornado risk, and tornado safety actions and their effects on warning response among Nebraska undergraduates. Nat Hazards 80, 329–350 (2016).

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