Deadly Tornadoes on the Rise: Emergency Management and Disaster Response
By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
The movie “Twister” was released in 1996. It portrayed a F-5 tornado (261–318 mph wind-speed), which at the time, was rather rare and thought to be a “mystical” storm system that Americans were lucky to rarely see or experience. In 2011, an EF-5 tornado (more than 200 mph wind-speed) was responsible for the widespread devastation in Joplin, Missouri. Some argue that the outbreaks of f-5 tornadoes are worsening over the last few years.
These storms are terrifying and particularly strong storms. More research is needed to not only understand them from a weather perspective, but it is also important for emergency management scholars to connect with scientists to figure out new ways to handle the widespread devastation an EF-5 tornado can bring. Collaboration between these two research studies could make tremendous strides to tighten emergency management efforts.
Understanding the Mechanics of Tornadoes
The National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma researches tornadoes to better understand the mechanics of them. At the research center, scientists specifically research how to better detect tornadoes, tornado dynamics, forecasting and myriad other important pieces to better understand tornadoes. Through understanding these important components and pieces of tornadoes, scientists may work to figure out building codes among other important measures towns and cities can take for preparedness purposes. The National Severe Storms Laboratory specifically researches weather forecasting systems, planning systems and community resiliency – all issues particularly important to emergency management efforts.
Emergency Management Research
There are numerous areas of emergency management that have had significant amounts of research in the last couple of decades. This research has been tremendous in allowing emergency management to grow as a discipline. Numerous disciplines marry themselves to other disciplines to create new knowledge. While emergency management is largely versatile, more collaboration needs to occur between tornado scientific studies and emergency management academic research. Together these two areas can come together to create new means for disaster management plans. Such collaboration can tighten already existing emergency management plans for prevention, preparedness and recovery.
The amount of tornadoes that have occurred in the last few years is concerning, and requires many more plans and research to understand how to better handle them in the future. Lessons learned and after action reports are so important, but tornado research and emergency management scholars need to come together to define new ways of better managing these crises after they have occurred.