November 11, 1998 Special Presentation

by Thomas Schmidlin

Professor and Chair, Department of Geography
Kent State University

Risk Factors for Death in the
22-23 February1998 Florida Tornadoes


Online Transcript
Download Transcript (MS Word File)

About Tom Schmidlin
Natural Hazard Center Quick Response Report # 106


EIIP Virtual Library Online Presentation

Risk Factors for Death in the February '98 Florida Tornadoes

Thomas Schmidlin
Professor and Chair, Department of Geography
Kent State University

EIIP Moderator: Amy Sebring

Dr. Thomas Schmidlin presented recent findings relating to the February 1998 Florida tornadoes. This "Quick Response" study is part of a larger, longer term study to determine causes of death from tornadoes, and follows on previous reports relating to tornadoes in Georgia and Arkansas.

The study methodology consists of survey questions to survivors, and those with knowledge regarding the circumstances of death for fatalities. Certain findings are consistent with previous results.

In the Florida tornadoes, deaths were associated with structural failure of mobile homes and recreational vehicles. Although warnings had been issued, due to the occurrence during the night, first warning of a tornado was its approach. Community sirens were not available.

While structural failures were the direct cause of death, other factors have been found in this study and the previous ones: both the elderly and very young are especially vulnerable, as are those who live alone. Instructions to abandon mobile homes for the protection of a ditch were not followed except in one instance. Futher evidence for the preferability of an automobile, absent the availability of a sturdy structure, was observed.


Professor and Chair, Department of Geography
Kent State University

Thomas Schmidlin is Professor and Chair of the Department of Geography at Kent State University. Tom received a B.S. degree from Iowa State University, M.S. from the University of Nevada-Reno, and the Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from Cornell University. His research focuses on tornado hazards.

Tom and his colleagues have conducted fieldwork following tornado disasters throughout the United States and have presented their research at numerous scientific meetings in the U.S and in Europe and to state and county EMA. His research on tornado hazards has been published in Disasters, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, and by the American Geophysical Union and the Natural Hazards Center. Tom is Editor of The Ohio Journal of Science and he and his wife Jeanne are co-authors of the book, Thunder in the Heartland: A Chronicle of Outstanding Weather Events in Ohio.

* * * *

Virtual Library Live Chat Page