Encyclopedia of Security and Emergency Management

Living Edition
| Editors: Lauren R. Shapiro, Marie-Helen Maras

Natural Hazards: Tornadoes

  • Lucia VelottiEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69891-5_209-1


A tornado is a rotating wind funnel generated by very large thunderstorms called supercell. In case the wind changes direction, there is an opportunity for moist and cold air to combine forming a rotating funnel.


Tornadoes can occur everywhere. In the United States, every year there are more than one thousand tornadoes (Haddow et al. 2014). In term of seasonality, tornadoes occur more frequently from March to August and primarily during the afternoon and evening “between noon and midnight” (Haddow et al. 2014, p. 44). In the United States, tornadoes occur more frequently in an area called “tornado alley” than in other regions. Tornado alley is an area covering several states such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. However, the number of tornadoes now occurring in the southeast, such as in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois, is becoming frequent (Berardelli, December 16, 2018). The main consequences in this shift in tornado location are that...


Natural hazard Protective actions Protective behavior Risk communication 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Aguirre, B. E. (1988) The lack of warnings before the Saragosa tornado. Int. J. Mass Emerg. Disasters, 6, 65–74.Google Scholar
  2. Berardelli, J. (2018, December 16). Tornado alley might be shifting to densely populated southeast, study shows. CBS News. Retrieved on 4 Feb 2019, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/tornado-alley-may-be-moving-to-southeast-climate-change-noaa-national-severe-storms-laboratory-oklahoma-study/
  3. Black, A. W., & Ashley, W. S. (2011). The relationship between tornadic and nontornadic convective wind fatalities and warnings. Weather, Climate, and Society, 3(1), 31–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blanchard-Boehm, R. D. (1998) Understanding public response to increased risk from natural hazards: Application of the hazards risk communication framework. Int. J. Mass Emerg. Disasters, 16, 247&278.Google Scholar
  5. DiGiovanni, C., B. Reynolds, R. Harwell, & Stonecipher, E. (2002). A prospective study of the reactions of residents of an American community to a bioterrorist attack. Defense Threat Reduction Agency.Google Scholar
  6. Foster, H. D., (1980). Disaster Planning: The Preservation of Life and Property. Springer-Verlag, 255 pp.Google Scholar
  7. Haddow, G. D., Bullock, J. A., & Coppola, D. P. (2014). Introduction to emergency management. Butterworth-Heinemann, Kidlington Oxford UKGoogle Scholar
  8. Climate Central. (2013, 4 June). Killer El Reno Tornado was the widest ever recorded: NWS. Retrieved on 3 Feb 2019, from https://www.climatecentral.org/blogs/killer-el-reno-tornado-was-widest-ever-recorded-nws-18308
  9. Donner, W. R., Rodriguez, H., & Diaz, W. (2007, January). Public warning response following tornadoes in New Orleans, LA, and Springfield, MO: A sociological analysis. In Second symposium on policy and socio-economic research, 87th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society, San Antonio, Texas.Google Scholar
  10. Evans, J. (2018). Tornado warnings in flash flood emergencies: What do we expect people to do? Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 99(8), 1517–1518.Google Scholar
  11. Haas, J., H. Cochrane, & Eddy, D. G. (1977) Consequences of a cyclone on a small city. Ekistics, 44, 45–50.Google Scholar
  12. Hodler, T. W. (1982). Residents’ preparedness and response to the Kalamazoo tornado. Disasters, 6(1), 44–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Morss, R., J. K. Lazo, & Demuth, J. L. (2010) Examining the use of weather forecasts in decision scenarios: Results from a US survey with implications for uncertainty communication. Meteor. Appl., 17, 149–162.Google Scholar
  14. Perry, R. W., & Greene, M. (1983) Citizen Response to Volcanic Eruptions: The Case of Mt. St. Helens. Irvington Publishers, 145 pp.Google Scholar
  15. Perry, R. W., & Lindell, M. (1986). Twentieth century volcanicity at Mt. St. Helens: The routinization of life near an active volcano. Tempe: School of Public Affairs, Arizona State University, Tech. Rep. 179 pp.Google Scholar
  16. Pifer, B., & Mogil, H. M. (1978). NWS hazardous weather terminology. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 59(12), 1583–1588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Powell, S. W., & O’Hair, H. D. (2008). Communicating weather information to the public: People’s reactions and understandings of weather information and terminology. In Preprints, 3rd symposium on policy and socioeconomic impacts, New Orleans, LA, American Meteorological Society, Poster 1.3. http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/132939.pdf. Accessed 7 Feb 2012.

Future Readings

  1. Goswick, J., Macgregor, C. J., Hurst, B., Wall, P. J., & White, R. (2018). Lessons identified by the Joplin School Leadership after responding to a Catastrophic Tornado. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 26(4), 544–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Schumann, R. L., III, Ash, K. D., & Bowser, G. C. (2018). Tornado warning perception and response: Integrating the roles of visual design, demographics, and hazard experience. Risk Analysis, 38(2), 311–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. This tornado was particularly remarkable not only because of its width, but also because storms do not usually travel from west to east.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Security, Fire and Emergency ManagementCity University of New York (CUNY), John Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew York CityUSA