Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 4-25-2018


Paltz, E., and M. Hayes, 2018: The Impact of Past Experience with Tornadoes on Future Decisions. Digital Commons at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.1-25


Copyright Emily Paltz 2018


Tornadoes are a dangerous threat to public safety. The National Weather Service (NWS), therefore, advises the public to go to an interior room on the lowest level of their houses when a tornado warning is issued for their area. As the NWS Central Region Service Assessment of the Joplin, Missouri Tornado published in July 2011 reveals, however, this is often not the first action taken after learning that there is danger of being hit by a tornado. Rather, people need to seek confirmation from more than one source before following the recommended action. The goal of this research project is to determine how the number of sources residents use vary with respect to characteristics such as the gravity of their past experiences. A total of 20 residents from two small Nebraskan towns, Pilger and Saint Helena, were interviewed. Residents were first asked to share their current sources of weather information and how they would respond to a given situation at the present time. Next, they were questioned about how they responded during past experiences with tornadoes. Results indicate the residents with a more recent, more personal, and graver experience are less likely to require information from as many sources as those with a more distant and less grave experience. Thus, it is concluded from these findings that past experiences play an important role in future decision-making.

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