What are the odds of dying in a tornado?

Odds of dying in a tornado?

One common question that arises when talking about severe weather is the odds of dying in a tornado. Tornadoes are dangerous, violent rotating columns of air that make contact with both a ground surface below and a cloud surface above. Wind speeds in tornadoes range from 40mph (an F0 tornado) to 300mph (an F5 tornado). So, what are the odds of dying in a tornado?

The rough odds of the chance of dying in a tornado are 1 in 60,000. In 2010 in the United States, according to the National Weather Service, there were 45 fatalities and 699 injuries contributed to tornadoes. These odds, like most accident odds, widely vary depending on several factors. To put those odds in perspective, the National Safety Council says the odds of dying by falling in your bathtub are 1 in 11,000. You are almost 6x more likely to experience a bathtub slipping fatality than a tornado fatality.

The biggest impacting factor when it comes to the odds of dying in a tornado accident is the area that you live in. Those living in “tornado alley”, a colloquial term used to describe an area in the United States that has the most tornado outbreaks, are almost 10x more likely to die in a tornado than those living outside this area.

Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory calculated that someone living in Norman, Oklahoma, in the heart of tornado alley, has a 1 in 7,000 chance of being fatally injured as a result of a tornado.

Other factors which can raise and lower these basic odds include the type of dwelling that you live in, your level of tornado preparedness, and the amount of lead time between the initial tornado warning and the tornado actually making contact with the surface.

Over the past 50 years, your odds of dying in a tornado have been dramatically reduced due to emerging technology in weather forecasting, meteorology instruments, alert notification systems, and construction techniques.

To help further reduce your odds of a tornado related fatality you should: purchase a weather alert system like a NOAA weather radio, avoid occupying mobile homes and trailers during severe storms, avoid travelling during severe storms with tornadic activity, and always monitor a weather forecast during severe storms.

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