Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Earth Sciences

Committee Chair

Arleen A Hill

Committee Member

Dorian Burnette

Committee Member

Andrew Mickelson

Committee Member

Keri Brondo


Tornado warnings are a form of persuasive communication that are intended to motivate people to take protective action. These warnings must reach all of the population exposed to the hazard no matter what time of day it is or where they are located. To accomplish this, multiple platforms are used to disseminate warning information. However, there is little research dedicated to how effective these platforms are in rural communities.Additionally, fatality rates tend to vary among rural communities, particularly between Tornado Alley and Dixie Alley; two high frequency tornado areas of the U.S. The objective of this research is to determine if differences in access, reliance, preference, and trust in tornado warnings can explain patterns in fatality rates between rural communities. Further, this work identifies resilience characteristics underutilized during times of emergency that could promote life-safety protective actions. A series of surveys conducted with National Weather Service forecasters, county-level emergency managers, and residents of communities in both Dixie Alley and Tornado Alley provide thebasis for the findings of this research. The results for this work provide forecasters and emergency managers with a scientific basis for evaluating any misalignment of protocols or priorities to insure that the life-saftey goals of warning communications are being met.This dissertation research finds that while variationsin platform access, reliance, and trust in sources do exist, residents in rural communities have access to multiple platforms. Encouragingly, the warning messages are not only received, they are understood.In fact, the missing link between an issued warning andresidents participating in protective action is the lack of either shelter options or a plan.Residents' awareness of the risk and vulnerabilities they are exposed to are found to be accurate, which provides a strong platform from which to address the preparedness and sheltering needs to enhance community resilience and reduce fatalities associated with tornado events.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.