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    Tornado Preference in the Community

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    The purpose of this study is to identify which tornado warning systems are preferred within the community. The aim is that this information will be representative of the community in its entirety, as there is no specific population within the community being studied. The goal is to have individuals from every class represented in the sample. To achieve this, information would be gathered from 100-200 individuals within the community. Information gathering will be done using a qualitative methodology called Grounded theory by means of a survey. Grounded theory allows a theory to be formulated from the data itself and is not pre-conceived. Hopefully this intentional step from pre-conceived thoughts will allow the information to speak for itself.

    Tornado Preference in the Community

    A vital part of preparedness in relation to severe weather is a tornado warning. Tornado warnings have been around since the late 1800’s, but after a few years were banned (Coleman, Knupp, Spann, Elliot, & Peters, 2011). The tornado warning system we have now began in 1948 due to a successful warning that was given in Oklahoma (Coleman, Knupp, Spann, Elliot, & Peters, 2011). As the years went, more systems developed such as warnings done over the radio or on the television. The seventies are when the outdoor raid siren that we still use today was implemented (Coleman, Knupp, Spann, Elliot, & Peters, 2011). In the late nineties, the two most popular forms of warning were the air raid sirens and the television (Balluz, Schieve, Holmes, Kiezak, & Malilay, 2000). With this information in mind, research suggests that the public look to television broadcasts as their main source for warnings (Blair & Leighton, 2014). Research has also shown that population also form psychological commitments to certain forecasters (Ripberger, Silva, Jenkins-Smith, & James, 2015)

    The process of receiving warning information is complex in nature and the source the information comes from has been seen to carry some importance (Ash, Schumann III, & Bowser, 2013). Today, there are several sources for disaster warnings, including cell phone notifications, radio, television, and outdoor sirens (Brotzge & Donner, 2013). Not everyone in the community receives warning notification and compliance to these warnings vary depending on certain socioeconomic factors (Donner, Rodriguez, & Diaz, 2012). For example, vulnerable populations may not receive certain types of warnings due to the inability to access them (Perreault, Houston, & Wilkins, 2014).

    Socioeconomic factors are not the only factors that can help determine the compliance that comes with the warnings. Researchers have identified other factors such as whether the individual is at home when it happens, previous experience with warnings, and gender (Paul, Stimers, & Caldas, 2014). Experience is a main one and there tends to be two types of experience. Direct experience means that the individual has personally been impacted by a hazard, such as a tornado. Indirect experience tends to be derived from media outlets or word of mouth from known friends or family. The fear is built through these outlets (Schumann, Ash, & Bowser, 2018).

    After reading this information, one can see that research has been done on compliance and the reasons why an individual chooses to act or not on a warning. Due to this, the research problem I have developed is focused on the tornado warning systems themselves, not on if warning systems are acted on and why.

    The purpose of this study is to identify which tornado warning systems are preferred in the community and to see if these preferences are related to socioeconomic factors that are present in the community.

    Theoretical Framework

    The basis for this proposal can be found in the Protective Action Decision Model. This model is derived from environmental disasters and the impact they had on people’s responses (Lindell & Perry, 2012). These responses are then integrated with how people process information. The information that is processed comes from the cues associated with messages that are transmitted to the public about an incoming threat (Lindell & Perry, 2012). This information has helped identify three pre-decision processes that people may go through. These processes are reception, attention, and comprehension of these messages that are communicated to the public (Lindell & Perry, 2012).

    This information is important because it can be applied directly to tornado warning preference within the community. Tornado warnings are sent to the public for the sole intent of eliciting a response. The article mentions something else that can affect how or if the message is received. This is attention and it is important because in today’s world, there are several warnings that are fighting for the attention of the individual. This is when preference is needed because the individual may choose to respond to one warning over another. This information can be gathered and implemented to ensure that more funding is put into warnings that are being processed and not ignored. That is why the research question in this proposal is what tornado warning system is preferred?


    The method being used for this proposal is qualitative and is called the Grounded Theory. This theory is rooted in the fact that everything is started from scratch (Blackwood, 2019). There is no pre-conceived theory in place and the researcher must maintain that mind frame. The theory is developed as the information gathered is analyzed (Blackwood, 2019). This allows for the researcher to be in complete control of how long information is gathered. They are to use their discretion on when they believe the theory is developed enough (Blackwood, 2019). This is perfect for tornado warning preference because it is developed as information is collected. There is not much research done on this topic, so this allows for the data itself to create the theory, not our thoughts.

    To obtain the data used for the above methodology, a survey would be created. This survey would have 5 warning systems presented with boxes that could be checked. The survey would also have a few questions asking about demographics and the individual’s class within the community. The reason a survey was chosen is due to the ease of creating one, distributing it, and analyzing it. Time management is of upmost importance and a survey would allow for quick turnaround.


    The variables within this proposal would be simple. The independent variable is a variable that is intentionally manipulated and influences outcomes (Creswell & Creswell, 2018). For this proposal, the independent variable would be the participants demographic, class, or sex. The dependent variable is the result of the influence of the independent variable (Creswell & Creswell, 2018). For this proposal, the dependent variable would be the participants willingness to use a specific warning system.

    Sample Type and Sample Size

    This proposal is meant to be a representation of the community. This means that there is not a specific population being targeted, instead there needs to be representatives from every class and demographic within the community. The chosen sample size would need to be between 100-200 individuals. A standard for Grounded Theory tends to be between 20-30 people but this would not give an accurate representation of the community (Creswell & Creswell, 2018).

    Data Analytics

    The tool that would be used for analyzing the data collected would be computer software programs (Creswell & Creswell, 2018). These programs give researchers several tools at their fingertips such as the ability to sort, store, and organize data. It is also much quicker than hand coding and would be a tremendous time saving tool (Creswell & Creswell, 2018). Researchers can also transfer this data to quantitative programs which would allow for the information to be placed in spreadsheets (Creswell & Creswell, 2018). These spreadsheets would allow for easy interpretation and presentation of the data.


    1. Ash, K. D., Schumann III, R. L., & Bowser, G. C. (2013). Tornado warning trade-offs: Evaluating choices for visually communicating risk. Weather, Climate, and Society, 6, 104-118.
    2. Balluz, L., Schieve, L., Holmes, T., Kiezak, S., & Malilay, J. (2000). Predictors for peoples response to a tornado warning: Arkansas, 1 march 1997. Disasters, 24, 71-77.
    3. Blackwood, K. (2019). Qualitative methods [PDF document]. Retrieved from
    4. Blair, S. F., & Leighton, J. W. (2014). Assessing real-time tornado information disseminated through NWS products. Weather & Forecasting, 29, 591-600.
    5. Brotzge, J., & Donner, W. (2013). The tornado warning process: A review of current research, challenges, and opportunities. American Meteorological Society, 1715-1733.
    6. Coleman, T. A., Knupp, K. R., Spann, J., Elliot, J. B., & Peters, B. E. (2011). The history (and future) of tornado warning dissemination in the united states. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 92, 567-582.
    7. Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2018). Research design qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.
    8. Donner, W. R., Rodriguez, H., & Diaz, W. (2012). Tornado warnings in three southern states: A qualitative analysis of public response patterns. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 9, 1-19.
    9. Lindell, M. K., & Perry, R. W. (2012). The protective action decision model: Theoretical modifications and additional evidence. Risk Analysis, 32, 616-632.
    10. Paul, B. K., Stimers, M., & Caldas, M. (2014). Predictors of compliance with tornado warnings issued in joplin, Missouri, in 2011. Disasters, 39, 108-124.
    11. Perreault, M. F., Houston, J. B., & Wilkins, L. (2014). Does scary matter? Testing the effectiveness of new national weather service tornado warning systems. Communication Studies, 65, 484-499.
    12. Ripberger, J. T., Silva, C. L., Jenkins-Smith, H. C., & James, M. (2015). The influence of consequence-based messages on public responses to tornado warnings. American Meteorological Society, 577-590.
    13. Schumann III, R. L., Ash, K. D., & Bowser, G. C. (2018). Tornado warning perception and response: Intergrating the roles of visual design, demographics, and hazard experience. Risk Analysis, 38, 311-332.

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